Sunday, August 19, 2007

Local Press and a Little Controversy


So far, this has been an extremely positive experience here in Stuart, Florida. I've met tons of really nice people, and even a few questionable people....but they were the minority, for sure. Once I'm finished with this project, I plan on mentioning all those I can remember...which will be a challenge, to be sure.

Anyway, the Stuart News sent a photographer over to shoot some photos of what I've been 'up to' , pun intended. So a couple weeks ago, Matt the photographer (Matthew Ratajczak) Showed up shortly after 8 am. I'm not sure he knew what he was in for given that I had been currently painting on the East side of the building and that by 8 am, it's already extremely hot up there. I'm pleased to announce that we both survived....soaking wet, but we survived.

After several phone interviews, first with a staff intern whose name I unfortunately forgot, and then by Bill DeYoung, an article was published in the Stuart News, Martin County section. They did a great job and I probably talked to much, which shouldn't surprise anyone that knows me. The one odd thing was the headline, which went as follows....
"Double Take Reveals Murals Not Real"
Hmmmm. Think about that for a sec. As some comments suggested on the website version, the murals are actually real, it's the subject matter and elements that are not real. But maybe that's being picky, I suppose. I certainly appreciate the good press. This is yet another article that at first started out as a 'mention' until they found out what I was doing and well...if a picture is worth a thousand words, four or five pictures are even better. So thank you Stuart News, Bill DeYoung, his intern, who was very nice....we laughed a lot, and of course, Matt. To see the article as well as photos online, go here....
Skip's Article in the Stuart News
I think that it's a sort of shortened version of the original article. Don't forget to view the slide show, which was a really nice touch.

Ok...oh....the controversy. Right.

One evening, I was up on the lift, preparing the last corner of the building for painting. I heard someone calling up to me, which is a common occurrence. So I acknowledged him and he asked me where the Ashley Gang was...my first thought was to say that they were all umm...dead. But I didn't...so I told him that they would be painted in the top niche of the corner I was working on....
So he asked me where I did my research and did I know that they had murdered three police officers near Miami. I didn't know that, I responded. He wondered if it was a good idea to 'glorify', in his words, a group of murderous thugs. I responded that I wasn't exactly doing that and that it was part of Stuart's history. I also asked him if he knew that after the gang had robbed the Stuart Bank, they were arrested and later allowed to escape by the sheriff . At least, that's something I read online. He shrugged and mumbled something while walking off into the sunset.
Later the next week, the very same guy wrote a letter to the editor of the Stuart News asking the same thing. So I did some research and found some interesting information.
What I looked for, thanks to friend Abby's suggestion, was info on Bonnie and Clyde stuff. It appears that towns all over Louisiana and Iowa compete for tourists, and their money, looking for info and exhibits about Bonnie and Clyde. And one in particular caught me eye. As it turns out, the town of Stuart, Iowa, community leaders are seeking a state grant for a revitalization project that includes a mural commemorating a bank robbed by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Visitors frequently stop to photograph the site of the April 16, 1934, heist, now the town's police station. Weird, eh? I've had all kinds of strange coincidences since I've arrived here....more about those later......

Also, I received an email from the city that said...."any artwork that portrays local lore or history in the community whether it is good or bad; it is still colorful and unique to us. Having said that stay the course we are behind you all the way."

I should mention that the Lyric Theater here in Stuart has bronze stars embedded in the sidewalk at the entrance to the theater, including one for the Ashley Gang. Down the street is the Ashley Restaurant that is full of Ashley Gang memorabilia and I also found out that there was a movie made about them called "Little Laura and Big John".

The photo above shows the Ashley Gang mural in progress....I have a lot of small changes, mostly with the shadows, but there will be two more characters and more money floating down.

That's it for now.....more later....

Skip

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