BEST PUBLIC ART PROJECT - 2004
Most of the workday warriors and nocturnal thrill-seekers who pass the mural on the First Avenue side of Merit Printing probably dismiss it as yet another garden-variety graffiti piece without even bothering to examine its contents. Too bad--the Krylon-covered wall is as much text as it is a work of art. Climb out of the car someday and read the thing, starting with the words "On a little planet called Earth," in the upper right-hand corner of the piece, closest to Washington Avenue. You'll soon encounter a blistering indictment of the Bush-era American Way, one that reminds us that the root of "consumerism" is "consume," which is what we are doing as we sit idling in First Avenue traffic. A cupid holding a fistful of dollar bills proclaims, "Romance isn't dead, it's big business." A monitor-enclosed skull with devil horns announces that "the average American watches 56 days of TV a year." A charging--or fleeing--rhino protests, "I need my horn more than you do." Sure it's sloganeering, but there's not an assertion on the wall that's easily disproved. Shortly after the mural went up in June of 2003, instigator Daniel Chen expressed the hope that it wouldn't last for more than a year. Lucky for us, he hasn't gotten his way.