On the east side of a now completely art-filled Opera Alley in Old Town Eureka, you can find a clever tribute to the myriad comments that local folks have made about public art.
As part of the first ever Eureka Street Art Festival — a week long event of mural making and public art creation, which wrapped up with a street party yesterday — festival organizer Jenna Catsos, with the help of artist Delo, decided to print out and paste up some of her favorite LoCO comments as an art installation.
“I wish I had thought of this long ago,” Catsos told the Outpost. “It was a really great release.”
Catsos said that the idea for this contribution to the festival came about when she and fellow organizers were joking around about local art and the community’s perception of it.
“People are always saying that Humboldt has the most artists per capita. I wanted our shirts [for the festival] to say ‘Humboldt has the most art critics per capita,’” she said.
Catsos then decided to paste up a culmination of comments from LoCO articles about the festival as well as famous art-related local debacles, including the “Cat Food” utility box dispute and the comments about the Opera Alley mural done by artist Dan Kitchener.
The “Public Comment” piece was just one many new artistic additions to Eureka this week, from more than 20 different local and visiting artists.
Another slightly controversial piece was done by local artist Matt Beard, who painted his work on an AT&T-owned utility box known to many as “that brown thing,” which many locals had used as space to post up flyers.
Beard told the Outpost he received overwhelmingly positive comments about his painting. However, he said there were a few negative reactions as well, most of them focused on the fact that his piece was taking up the public message board space.
Beard decided to incorporate the negative quotes into his piece. “This is supposed to be a message board,” and “That looked better before you started painting it,” are among some of the lines Beard painted in cryptic lettering, on the border of the utility box. He also included his own line “The dangers of black and white thinking.”
Anyone who missed the festival can still go and look at the works, which the businesses have agreed to leave up for at least five years. Co-organizer Claire Reynolds told the Outpost that money from Saturday’s street party will go towards mural touch-ups.
You can also catch the festival next year. Organizer Jenna Catsos told the Outpost that the festival premiere was a huge success and they will definitely be throwing it again. She wasn’t sure of the attendance numbers, but estimated that at least 1,500 people had come through during the week and probably about that many were at the street party.
Catsos did say she received some negative feedback, particularly about the parking spaces taken up by the street party. But she said most people she talked to were thrilled. Business owners in the area were happy with the increased foot traffic and tourists loved seeing the art.
As for the inevitable negative comments, Catsos embraces them as constructive criticism and feels that they often come from good intentions.
“We all just love Eureka. It’s just that our visions are different,” she said. “I love Eureka and I’m excited to see it change.”