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The Issue: Mount Pleasant residents are divided over the design for a proposed community mural by D.C arts organization City Arts and artist Byron Peck. The mural, which would go up on a side of the Atonatl condominium building on Mt. Pleasant Street, consists of scenes from around the neighborhood—children reading, dancers in the Latino festival. What’s wrong with that? Residents are bickering over everything from the number of pictures in the mural to whether the “right” Latin American country is represented. The uproar could threaten the mural’s proposed funding from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. A resolution to the commission supporting the mural recently failed in Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1D.
Not Another Brick in the Wall: Jack McKay, the ANC commissioner who introduced the resolution, told City Desk in a e-mail that Mount Pleasant needs a mural. “Maybe his design wasn’t the best, but it’s better than bare brick,” he said. McKay blamed any problems with the mural on disparate ideas from the community. (According to Peck, he based the design on suggestions from around 60 people who attended neighborhood meetings starting in June.) McKay’s take: “Art design by ‘committee’ is a dreadful concept.”
Fresc-no: “The pictures that are used are random, somewhat strange,” Zahid Rathore, a seven-year resident of Mount Pleasant, said. While he feels bad that Peck devoted so much time to the mural, Rathore says he could make a better one—and he’s even not artistically inclined.
The group Historic Mount Pleasant agrees with Zathore. In a Dec. 15 letter to the D.C. arts commission, the organization decried the mural’s “picture album design” and dull colors. “This will not help beautify Mount Pleasant but will further help clutter it,” Fay Armstrong, Historic Mount Pleasant’s president, wrote.
ANC commissioner McKay says that some Salvadoran residents of Mount Pleasant in particular have been turned off by the mural.
Next Step: The proposed mural goes to the arts commission for funding. Until then, Peck says he plans on “keeping a low profile.”
Mural design courtesy of Byron Peck/City Arts