Monday, May 18, 2009

Alderman James Balcer: HATER.

Gabriel Villa spent two weeks painting this mural in Bridgeport for an arts festival on a wall owned by the mother of Ed Marszewski, a festival organizer. In other words, he was granted permission to paint a mural on private property. It didn't last long though, as Ald. James Balcer (Ward 11) had it buffed. In his own words, he was quoted saying:
"You know I don't know if there was hidden gang meaning behind it with the cross, with the skull, with the deer, with the police camera's. Was there something anti-police about it? I don't know what's in his mind. That's how I viewed it."
Hater? Or just dumbass? I call a combination of both. But on the real, this was an entirely unfair move on the governments part to squash the little guy because someone didn't like what was painted. It's art. One of many things art does is challenge you. Even though the wall now bears the infamous brown buff, I sort of consider it a win on Villa's part (even though, I would imagine he may understandably disagree), as he obviously challenged the alderman, and the alderman couldn't handle it.


Feel free to contact him and express your disgust with his decision:

3659 S. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60609
(773) 254-6677



  1. That's art? I call this grafitti RUBBISH. I'm glad it was covered. Kudos to Balcer and the grafitti busters for doing their job!

  2. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

    Unauthorized writing or drawing on a public surface.

    1) This was AUTHORIZED by 2) the OWNER of the PRIVATE PROPERTY.

    Obviously, you're entitled to your opinion, but the fact is Balcer censored this mural, and you support the censorship, Anonymous. Next time, don't be so afraid, and hide behind your computer; Leave your name.

  3. Balcer's one of the biggest knuckleheads around. He's a Daley puppet, but they let him push his weight around when it comes to this sort of thing.

  4. Andy,

    Cousin Bob here ... bear with me; I'm an elected official and both of my inlaws make their living as artists. "hater" or "dumbass", maybe but I'd argue the Alderman may have earned those titles NOT for disliking the "art".

    Art, is an expression of feeling or impression and folks certainly ought to have the right to do just that however, imposing those expressions or feelings on others, as a mural by it's very nature must do, is then a "squashing" of sorts on others... what makes Villa think he has a "right" to make everyone who walks by that wall "think" about the things he thinks are important? I've got as much right to be left alone as Villa does to express himself. This is one of the reasons signs are so heavily regulated ... and courts have held up such regulation. If Villa wants to do another mural - forced upon the public as murals are - then I'd suggest he permit it first.

    However, there is another question altogether that, if you're looking for a way to beat on the alderman, might be far more effective (kinda like ringin' up Capone for tax evasion) ... if, murals on private property were not, at the time of the painting regulated under City ordinance then it would seem to me there is a property rights issue on which the City may have overstepped it's authority.

    This issue, for me, is never about the "quality" or "content" of the art ... it is what it is and I'll either love it or hate it - no the point as I suspect I can find plenty on either side. Rather, the issue is about whether or not the public ought to either subsidize (National Endowment for the Arts) or be forced to endure ANY particular art - I think not.

    As an aside, in my opinion, murals of any kind are lousy because without some future attention (either re-painting or painting over) they quickly look like shit and again, the public is left holding the bag (regardless of content - the same is true for billboards - I HATE when companies are allowed to let a billboard fall into disrepair).

    Just some more to chew on ...


  5. Bob!

    Your point about murals always requiring future attention in order to avoid deterioration or simply becoming an eye-sore is a solid, interesting point. However, with that said, I personally would hate to see less or no murals at all, and would rather see more effort in refreshing them with new art or restoring them. Either way, it would require more work and money.

    Have murals on private propery ever been regulated by city ordinance? To me, that is the essence of censorship to which I have a problem with. I feel the community as a whole should have the power to say what is accepted and what is not, but to leave that decision solely on the city is unfair and in some cases, a bit scary. From everything I've read regarding this story, there was no such authority held by the city, but it is something worth noting and finding out more.

  6. Andy,

    I agree ... mostly. The private property issue here is the most interesting to me and retention of property rights is a really big deal ... they're being dwindled steadily by the government.

    I think though that such rights are put on the side thought when you say "...the community as a whole should have the power to say what is accepted and what is not ...". That's very dangerous ground upon which you tread.

    It sounds fine initially but is a classic set up for mob behavior trampling the rights of a minority. To the extreme; what if the public decided "as a whole" that there should be no advertisements that depicted blacks? Surely all the other ethnic groups could "out-vote" them ...

    Be very careful - think it through. Fascinating discussion!


  7. my problem is i put too much trust in the community to always do what's best, but you're right, it's risky. although your example is in fact extreme, it's not out of the question that, regardless of the "vote", someone's left unhappy, and in some cases, hurt. however, i'm a cynic of many politics (also a bit uneducated) and not convinced that all alderman are a true voice of the people they represent, and sometimes ignore them completely, therefore, i'm not necessarily sold on the current system, but i also don't have a solution.

  8. I realize this post is old, but I just found this blog and I feel the need to share my two cents and drop some web 2.0 on this. The images above are not loading for me, so I can't comment on the specifics, either, but I feel that this statement might be pertinent to the situation: "no one has the right to live without being shocked".

    Especially when this was private property, and authorized.