The continuing story of Ron English and Electric Windows

August 18th, 2010 | By | 3 Comments »

Ron English was pretty active recently at the Electric Windows event a few weeks ago, not only painting a panel but also putting up a few posters.

Turns out, not all the locals in Beacon were happy with English’s work.

Here’s something from Ron English:

The Electric Windows Project in Beacon was a great success this year, getting out some great art and bringing together Brooklyn hipsters and longtime Beacon residents…

But by Tuesday, dozens of outraged townies assembled at the Beacon city planning board meeting to protest a couple of pieces I did. After a quick briefing in closed session with the city attorney, who went over the first amendment with planning board members, the board announced that although it had no legal right to order the work taken down, it would allow the public to express their outrage over the fact that I used Jesus as a corporate spokesmodel and “Crack” as a criticism of fast food in a couple of “subvertisements.”

The board let me speak first, and I expressed surprise that my work created such a furor. I’m always surprised when this kind of thing happens… which is often and usually propagated by people who don’t understand or fully take in the work but instead attach their own agenda to it.

After I spoke, a wave of angry Christians took their turns at the mike. One woman wanted to know why she couldn’t paste up the photos of dead fetuses that she routinely held up at the health clinic. Others wanted to know what gave me the right to comment on the most powerful religion on the planet. And one board member expressed outraged that I was promoting crack… to the children. Afterwards, a teacher got up to helpfully explain that children don’t understand metaphor.

Then a self-professed stateside noncombat post traumatic stress-afflicted veteran informed me that he had notified Miller High Life about my offensive parody of their brand..

So English returned to Beacon and modified the posters. Check out the new posters on his Juxtapoz blog.

Photos by LoisInWonderland

Category: Art News, Photos | Tags: ,
  • Lane

    I have such mixed feelings about this- on one hand, I am a fan of Ron English- On the other hand, I find it sad that the residents of the space in which he put up the work are now somehow the enemy. The thing is, public space belongs to the public, but also to the people who actually reside there. Street art is at its best when it joins in the community and celebrates art and the public space, but somehow it fails when it pits the artist with the people who live there. Because really, its more their space than the artists or the advertisers or what have you. While the woman who comments about putting abortion posters up is absolutely ridiculous and makes me fume, the other resident who says “children don’t understand metaphors” kind of has a point. And perhaps a more understanding attitude towards these peoples concerns could have been taken.
    I think political street art is complicated and necessary- but clearly the residents felt alienated from the work and not like the work helped speak for them. I wonder, what are you thoughts on this?

  • Benji

    Well I think that is why street art is most often done anonymously because it often concerns, often controversial, topics that people, especially those of a more conservative nature, don’t wish to be broadcasted or discussed out in the open. Which is half the reason why they should. Doing works without consent and anonymously prevents public backlash against the artist once it is in broad daylight. Though it does hurt if you get caught. As to the crack poster if kids don’t get the metaphor then it is up to the parents to explain it, besides not knowing about such things is what gets kids into trouble in the first place. Always seems a bit weak to use that argument. I would understand a parents anger if say it was a poster of something grotesque such as, I dunno, an aborted fetus perhaps? But rather chirpy poster that comments on the evils of everyday society does not fall into this category. I think that if these posters were put up in a place where there wasn’t some kind of public anger I would say that they were preaching to the converted and thus not effective. High strung conservatives need to chill. It is the public right to express opinion and I don’t see the message as a negative one. It saddens me that some people file a rather clever artwork together with grotesque anti-abortion posters depicting images of aborted foetuses. It’s asking why can’t I bring my cheap Goon sack to your fancy cocktail party, It is just plain stupid.

  • RJ

    Yeah, Lane I’m kind of in your boat. I haven’t really formed an opinion either way here. I think both sides (Ron and the public) make some good points.