GRANOLA PARK: Mural, mural on the wall

IMAGE: Mural sketches by artist Michael Kirby on display at the city community center. Photo by Bill Brown.


Dear Readers,

Who’s got the fairest idea of all?

If it is you, pleeeese give it to the city, because the few ideas it has now don’t have the strength to lift a paintbrush.

The city is asking – with wide, pleading puppy-dog eyes – for feedback and ideas for a wall mural at Conway and Prince Georges Avenues. The artist Michael Kirby showed sketches based on the ideas he’s received so far prior to the last city council meeting, June 22. The sketches were on display in the lobby next to the council chambers entrance. One showed an imagined underground look at the earth on the other side of the retaining wall.


Suzanne Ludlow, city manager, tries to coax mural ideas out of an innocent bystander June 22 in the community center lobby. Photo by Bill Brown.

Cute idea, but it doesn’t say much about Takoma Park or the neighborhood. It’s not worth thinking about more than twice, but it is something people will see every day. iHow about something more inspiring or challenging or shocking?

We know this city’s quirkily, cantankerous residents can come up with better ideas!

Just ask Yours Truly!

Since you ask. How about something about Takoma Park activism or politics? Something that moves people to action.

There was that 2013 “Waiting for climate change” installation by Isaac Cordal a couple of years ago – men in business suits blandly watching waters rise above their necks.

Or how about emulating Mexican bad-boy muralists José Orozco and Diego Rivera? Base the city mural on Rivera’s infamous Rockefeller Plaza mural that showed Lenin leading the workers in revolt against corrupt fat-cat Rockefeller and friends? Only, instead of Lenin, depict Sammy Abbott and other local activists saving the city from being bisected by Interstate 95 or bulldozed by Montgomery College and Metro.

Rivera’s mural was kind of static, though – machine parts and ranks of idealized workers waving read flags. Better to follow Orozco’s example – his images do the twist and stick their tongues out. He didn’t just poke his sponsors in the eye, he stomped on their feet and threw a hornets nest at them.

One mural panel commissioned by Dartmouth College for its library, for example, shows a skeleton giving birth on a mound of books – library books, probably. Assisting the birth is a skeleton in academic gowns and mortarboard. The new-born skeleton baby also wears a mortarboard – just like all the other baby skeletons sealed in bell jars scattered around the scene. Gravely (heh heh) watching the scene is a host of more skeletons in academic robes and hats.

On an ivy-league university’s library wall. Talk about sticking it to the man! That takes something skeletons don’t have – lots of guts. No bones about it.


The mural site at Conway and Prince Georges Avenues. Photo: City of Takoma Park.

THAT’S the kind of establishing-mooning we want to see in Takoma Park!

So, instead of showing Sammie Abbott saving the city, show him spinning in his grave as the people he championed – the poor, minorities, workers and middle-income folks – are pushed out out Takoma Park by rising home prices, high-earning, professional newcomers, upscale restaurants and stores and the ascendence of property values over community values!

Or how about a mural depicting one of the late local animal-rights activist Walt Rave’s favorite contentions that having children is a selfish act of environmental destruction?

Perhaps a 9/11 “truther” theme?

Whatever the muralist paints, it won’t be any good unless it is so outrageous, the city wants to paint it over.

View Michael Kirby’s concept drawings for Conway and Prince Georges Avenues mural online, or in person at the Takoma Park Community Center. The city would like you to share your thoughts in a brief survey.

– Gilbert


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The Voice

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

4 Comments on "GRANOLA PARK: Mural, mural on the wall"


    But yes, a mural depicting Sam Abbott standing up to the North Central Freeway or championing Metro would be appropriate.

  2. Also, if Sam Abbott were alive today, he would be championing revitalization of the Crossroads and Long Branch areas with higher density, transit-oriented commercial and residential redevelopment along the Purple Line route (which he would have loved!) that would benefit everyone instead of wasting his time decrying the lack single family middle class housing at a preferred price point.

    How soon the Voice forgets –

    “In the fight against the freeway, Sammie was victorious. It took 13 years of commitment but the freeway was never built and highway funds were transferred to mass transit . That is the only reason we have
    the subway today. Sammie Abbott is responsible for the subway being built It was fitting that there should be a subway station in Takoma Park. Every person who rides the subway and every resident of Takoma Park whose house increased in value because of the subway has Sam Abbott to thank.”

  3. Disappointed | July 1, 2016 at 10:11 pm |

    The reason the artists drawings are so milk toast is that local residents bitched about having a mural at all. So the artist came up with stuff that would offend no one. Perhaps the community (one resident in particular) should get out of the way and just let the artist, well, be an artist!

  4. Berkeley has real murals – – featuring events such as Reagan’s jackbooted storm troopers (sometimes known as the California National Guard) preparing to storm People’s Park en masse.

    Then again, Berkeley is a real city.

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