Last night I attended the dedication of Campy Washington, a new addition to the Artworks roster of area murals, and easily one of my favorite local public art projects. Located at 3025 Colerain Ave. next to Camp Washington Chili, the mural has a bold presence in the neighborhood.
What makes this mural effective to me is its blend of immediate visual impact and layers of local references. You can “get” a message instantly, in passing, but looking closer and thinking a bit more, or knowing the area, yields deeper connections. The mural plays with language, pushes coincidence to humorous effect, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It references local color while remaining accessible to casual observers. The dead-pan portrait composition highlights the silliness of its subjects posing together. And, lest anyone get offended by the sight of George Washington in drag, the flying pigs remind you that this is pure whimsy.
Kudos to the artist and the community for choosing such a bold and engaging design, and to the talented apprentices for their fine execution. I’m so proud to live in a city with such a strong public art presence, and so envious of the high school students who get to participate in many of these projects. I always support public art on principle, even if the results are bland. This is far from bland and accomplishes, I think, exactly what public art should — a site-specific, yet accessible visual storytelling in a community for the community. It acts as a teaching tool without succumbing to didacticism, and still manages to entertain and amuse.
But, this wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t find something to quibble about — this cool ghost sign that got painted over. 1 million a day what?
Lastly, did anyone watch Joe Lieberman’s RNC speech the other night? It seems that he gave a top-secret shout-out to this mural when he said something along the lines of, “…George Washington in a dress… in his address.” Did anyone else catch this?