Art Mural on RIA Stirs Residents’ Emotions

photo courtesy of David Miller (@themilman)
photo courtesy of David Miller (@themilman)

*** Updated continuously as comments are posted***

A couple of weeks ago, an art mural appeared on the building owned by Good ‘Ole Reliable along Rhode Island Avenue NE. The mural depicts soldiers and American flag colors in a patriotic theme. The liquor store sits across the street from the Veteran Administration’s building. So is it appropriate? The Insider decided early on to wait to see what the reaction was on the listservs. Below are some reactions, and please let us know what you think in our comment section.

From the Ward 5 Listserv:

I could not imagine why someone would paint a military mural on the liquor store at Franklin and Rhode Island Ave. At first I thought maybe an army recruiter was moving into the building. Now, I am not sure.  However, I am opposed to this military propaganda appearing in our neighborhood.  I feel that this depiction encourages war and adds nothing positive to the neighborhood aesthetic.
I am not in favor of censorship, but I know this kinda thing, an unattractive, militaristic, cartoon caricature  would not be painted anywhere in Ward 3.
With the prison looking architecture of the new library, I feel that someone is trying to make our neighborhood into a war zone.
Residents should stand up and just say no. Enough of this degradation.  -Stephanie Kristina Rones, PCDC
It is not very pleasant but it coincides with the name of the liquor store which has been there longer than I can remember (at lease 25 years or more) back when the Pizza Hut was shiney and fancy and the best ice cream in the area was up the street in the strip mall next to the Discount Mart (I think that was the name). – Eric Jones
Last week, on a daily basis, I watched the skillful hands of three (3) wonderful young artists, create a vision on the plain egg shell white walls of this business establishment (which has sometimes been “Tagged”), which evolved from the spirit of intent of the thoughts and feelings of the owners of this business to bring about a colorful, visual expression of their appreciation and deserved place of honor for those who serve our country in the military for all to see.
Ironically, this simple, highly expressive and symbolic mural, located at the intersection of 15th St, RIA and Franklin St NE, is right across the street from the I believe is the now 2 year old federal Veterans Resource Center, which is serving our Veteran population.  Perfect!
Included in this “Mind Melt” was the important need to create a work of art which the “Taggers” would also appreciate and respect, therefore would not destroy.
Rather than write an “arm chair response”, I stopped by the store this evening and talked with the owners. I learned this mural came about through funding by a DC government agency, which I think may have come from DC Commission on Arts and Humanities.  The owners were approached by the DC govt agency which was working towards placing art on blank walls to gain control over “Tagging” and Graffiti.  The property owners are teamed with the artists.  Proper paperwork was developed for this project as with the others. 
I recall when an ANC commissioner, there was a problem with tagging on private property and cars by some unidentified youth in my SMD.  From talking with Bill Howland, Director, DPW, at the time, he was working on ways to get a handle on the problem.  Thanks Mayor Gray, Bill Howland and any other agency involved with coming up with this idea, which gives our young people an opportunity to express themselves in a positive, supportive manner!
Wars and other military conflicts are hard for many people to accept.  Our system like in other countries have a military to defend “against the enemy” to protect national security.  In the US system is the military industrial complex, which sadly, at times, utilizes our troops to protect their own self serving interests, at a cost of lives, and many soldiers returning permanently injured in body and mind, but they sign up to serve.  Even more egregious, are the DC residents who sign up to serve our country, yet, pay taxes and do not have the right to vote for a full-fledged Representative or Senator.
Recognizing their service is the right thing to do.  I only hope that a woman in service can be depicted on the remaining blank wall, for we now also serve.  I will ask, with hopes that the owners will agree, and that the needed additional funding can be found. BTW, the owners, who also own the entire building, welcome anyone who wants to inquire about this beautiful tribute mural to stop by. – Albrette “Gigi” Ransom
I have to be honest…I do not approve of this military mural on 15th and RI Ave.  I feel that it is shear propaganda and I wonder why any tax dollars were given toward this.  I cringe every time I drive by it.  I live at the corner of 17th and Rhode Island and have to see this every day now.  Above all, my 11-year-old son has to see this as well?  I am all for supporting our troops and vets as well as our talented youth, however, mural looks more like a Hitler propaganda than anything else. This mural would not be accepted west of the park.  But, we in Ward 5 have to sit back and accept this? – D Roy

From the Brookland Listserv (this conversation started due to someone cross-posting Stephanie Rones’ original comment):

I thought I was the only one to think that this location is inappropriate  to honor soldiers. The artwork is good but the subject of the artwork chosen is completely off for that location. It clearly wasn’t thought out of how the public would interpret it. We already have too many liquor stores destroying our community. We don’t need anything drawing more attention to them so the can gain more business.  – JW on Quincy

Doesn’t a mural being painted on a building need approval from the ANC to get the city permit? Did the ANC approve it? – Kathy

I am a person who supports the art and persons artistic style, therefore, I took off the word Ugly in the subject matter.  When the mural was being painted, I went and met the Artist, who I asked the questions who commissioned him to do the work and why he used the theme?  The answer was there was a call for artist from Mural DC, they liked his work and he was awarded the grant.  The theme came from Mural DC and he painted in his style.  Therefore, I suggest e-mail Mural DC with questions and concerns about the subject matter and it’s location and city requirements.  I hope this helps. – Roxanne

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What do you think?

One thought on “Art Mural on RIA Stirs Residents’ Emotions

  1. While I don’t like the colors it is always good to add at to the neighborhood and this business has been part of our community longer than most can remember. Plus Iit does look nicer than that plain wall. I don’t know about going as far as starting that this is an attack on the neighborhood, but everyone has there own opinion.

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