Juxtapoz // Monday, April 07, 2008
As we’ve long known, not everyone is a fan of public artwork, but this really blew our minds. Serge Toussaint, a Miami-based, Haitian muralist, has been forced to paint over a part of one of his murals that depicts Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama because of insufficient permits. But wait, Toussaint was commissioned to paint the piece- how does that work out?
The Miami Herald reports that Toussaint was paid $3,000 by a city organization to paint the concrete poles of an I-95 underpass, employing the city's motif of blues skies and clouds. However, he also painted a mural depicting Martin Luther King Jr and Barack Obama on the highway wall. Instead of appreciating the extra effort Toussaint made, this created quite a controversy. Elaine Black, president of the Liberty City Community Revitalization Trust, said, "We did not pay Serge to do that...He decided to put that one up.”
Two weeks after the mural was painted, an anonymous caller notified the Florida Department of Transportation, which ordered Toussaint to paint over Obama. Toussant reluctantly obeyed, but the FDOT also said that the picture of King might need to be removed as well, because it does not fit the original permit description.
“It was the most hurtful thing in my life,” Toussaint says, recalling taking a can of white acrylic to his Obama. “I cry. I cry. My wife tells me it’s okay, but it hurts me that they made me paint it off.”
The artist used white primer to cover Obama, and new callers have now accused him of "whitewashing" the presidential candidate. Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don’t! Read more at miamiherald.com.