The erstwhile Atascadero Colony (under “threat of litigation”) is going to give more thought to a particular public mural, and — let’s hope — the issue of public murals. The quandary, of course, is that one man’s meat is another man’s poison, that public art is both free and unavoidable, and that formally juried art is usually a death knell (ask any Impressionist).
Perhaps Atascadero could set up a regulatory process that does something like this: Let a thousand flowers bloom, and set up a website where murals are opened to “review” by city residents. At some agreed-upon threshold of dislike, it’s gotta go, to be replaced or just painted over (remember, the public has the strongest right of ownership of public space).
And, because there is such a thing as refined taste, the city might encourage its residents to become (as Jimi Hendrix put it) “experienced.” Documentaries such as “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” and resources such as the Artbound series at KCET.org provide free resources that can give one entry into the current of contemporary art (style is not the issue; vitality is).
Atascadero is a town with a venerable beginning, which has lost its bearings, its future. Perhaps if they were to jump into the boundless world of art, with both feet, we could then speak of the once and future Atascadero, born and reborn, of the utopian dreams of man.
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