Murals, Memories and Misfits

Murals, Memories and Misfits

View from the Harvey - Weekly column by Sandra Schulman, arts writer, music and film producer.

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This story is about a mural that does not exist in West Palm Beach any more

It should be against the law to mess with rock and roll kings Joey Ramone and Lou Reed, but the rockers’ famous faces have been painted over on a mural in West Palm Beach’s Clematis Street where they held court for a year outside Respectable Street Café. Actually it sort of is against the law.

Christopher working on Clematis Street Mural
Christopher working on Clematis Street Mural

The building’s owner, Rodney Mayo, hired artist Christopher McFarlane to paint over the mural and replace it with an environmental theme of manic wolves chopping down a forest. The old mural had faces of Lou Reed, Joey Ramone, Robert Smith, Morrissey and Ian Curtis, was really well done and was beloved by the hipster community.

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A recent visit to the site found MacFarlane hard at work in the searing heat, gas mask on and spray paint cans at the ready. “I got hired to paint this,” he told me after climbing down the ladder. ”But people keep coming by and they’re angry the old mural is gone. Hey, I was given this job, I’m doing my best to make this one great.”

MacFarlane’s online bio says “I’m married and have three  kids. I didn’t go to school for art. I don’t even have a college degree. I’m just a dude who likes to make stuff I think looks cool.” Well that’s pretty punk actually.

The other wall the mural is hitting is the fact that the new mural outside is not permitted yet. Apparently a permit is required by the city’s Art in Public Places Committee even if you own the building. Owner Mayo said he applied for a permit for the new design, but was not granted one because of a time frame situation, as there is a temporary moratorium. The moratorium is in place until the committee comes up with new rules, Mayo said he was told.

The Palm Beach Post reports that Mayo could be fined $500 a day. As of the end of August Mayo says he had not been fined and says that if he is, he will paint the wall a solid color to cover up the new mural. Mayo had the wall painted in honor of Respectable’s 28th anniversary party; which he says is a tradition for the company.

The free block party last month featured The Misfits and 27 other hard core rock bands. There is no mention of the mural or the controversy on the clubs social media sites or website. 28 years is a long time for any South Florida club, opened in 1987 Respectable Street is still in it’s original location, built in an old Salvation Army building circa 1923. Heck the club is older than most of its patrons, like MTV. Respectable Street has hosted over 1000 live acts ranging from The Red Hot Chili Peppers and legends like the Damned, indie newcomers Surfer Blood and hundreds more. At this age, Respectable Street has become an institution in South Florida and is considered one of the premier live music venues in the country.

In a statement the city said, “Rodney is a great member of the community and we are sure we’ll work this out.”

This process is nothing new as Mayo said he knows it and has followed it every year. When he tried to get a new mural permit he was told that all mural applications are on hold until October when the city’s Art in Public Places Committee is scheduled to vote on a new arts master plan. The master plan could include new rules for how murals are chosen, to allow for a more diverse selection of artists. Under the current process, “a very small number of artists are painting a large number of murals in the city,” a spokesman for the committee said. If Mayo had known about the moratorium, he said he would have left the old mural up. Meanwhile, MacFarlane worked around the clock to finish the new mural. He hopes he doesn’t get hassled by code officers because he said he already has been hassled enough by passers-by upset that he painted over the musician faces. “They’re like, ‘I loved those faces. How could you do that?’ ” MacFarlane said to the Post. “I guess the pressure is on to make this one even better.”

Meanwhile back in Joey Ramones home turf of NYC, artists Solus and John “Crash” Matos painted a knockout colorful tribute to Joey just across the way from the former CBGB club at Bleecker and Bowery. The piece is part of the LoMan Art Festival and marks the anniversary of the Ramones’ first show at CBGB, in August 1974. “The gloves represent the struggle Joey and Ramones endured 2 achieve success – they performed 2,263 times touring nonstop for 22 years,” Solus says.

Punks on Tsu.co

Speaking of punk art, there’s a new social media site that is profit sharing, think Uber and AirBnB, meaning for the first time a site is paying the user to post original content like photos, music, videos and art. It’s called Tsu.co and has them running scared at Facebook, you know that site that all the users free content made the owners billionaires.
The best one is called NY Punk, and has the top rock photographers in the biz like Marcia Resnick, Keith Green, Howie Pyro, David Scharff, David Godlis, West Palm Beach’s Bobby Grossman and Phyllis Stein, who have been posting some real gems from their deep 70s and 80s era archives.

It’s free to join and free to post, but you have to use original content or links to articles that stick to the theme on the group pages. Resnick, Godlis and Grossman all have books coming out this fall with their portraits of musicians and clubs. The Tsu site is already posting rare pics from the new books along with the great stories behind the photos – Debbie Harry, Andy Warhol, Johnny Thunders, Dee Dee Ramone are all featured.

Tsu has only been online about a year, and the Group pages for everything from Football to Cats to Music have only been up a few weeks. The site has been written up in Billboard and the NY Times. It’s invite only though and I’m inviting you – join the gang at www.tsu.co/groups/ny-punk.

Murals, Memories and Misfits: Rockers Famous Faces Have Been Painted Over on a Mural in West Palm Beach’s Clematis Street By Artist Christopher McFarlane

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