June, 4 2022.
(Check out the Look Out Santa Cruz articles here if you need some background) or (the BLM page of this website)
It’s been an emotionally charged week. The BLM court hearing was much more intense than I had anticipated. I actuality I didn’t even know if I would be speaking. As it was very last minute and initially supposed to be Taylor testifying on his arist fees. Because he wasn’t able to appear, my angle was to shift the conversation from strictly about artist fees to what it means to place a value on art. As if this wasn’t already a nuanced subject, but that’s the point right? Nowhere in the world has the value of a piece of art been based on artist fees. Fortunately or unfortunately.
Art, unlike many other objects we can acquire, appreciates in value. Murals hold value for their historical, cultural, and social impact. The argument that a mural loses value over time because it’s outside so wear & tear are expected, is null in this case for several reasons. Firstly, we have committed to the maintenance of this mural for 10 years, assigning it a minimum of 10 years to garner even more historical relevance.
Second, the purpose of this mural was to create a safe space in alignment with a movement ideally culminating in a paradigm shift in Santa Cruz regarding racial equity. So this mural is also tied to the racial health of our community. Which is why we aren’t repainting it yet. The community is currently in dis-ease. When we begin to heal, we will begin think about repainting. As I said in my original letter of intent to city council:
“This mural and its’ maintenance are a statement of intent and accountability to what our community is doing to create a more just world.”
Hence, it’s not, nor was it ever, just paint on the ground therefore the value of it cannot be determined as if it was.
All that to say, I felt like I had to do a lot of defending. Also, to watch the purveyors of justice sidebar over and over (which is where lawyers and the judge do a mean girl huddle to speak privately about you, in front of you, but also behind your back) felt demeaning. The defense objected to my take on the subject of art and value siting that I was not an expert because as she put it, “she’s only taken like 3 art classes.” While my degree is in Political Science, the ADA pointed out the details regarding what it takes for me to have been working professionally in the arts since 2013 and that as a career Artist, “She is in fact an expert your Honor. I rest my case.”
It’s disheartening that had it been a question of politics in America they may have sited my degree as a measure of my expertise. Apparently years of entrepreneurship and first hand experience working in a field means little to the defense and to most mainstream professional circles. To me this is nonsense and problematic. This system is problematic but change takes time and change takes showing up. Again, and Again, and Again….sigh.