Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I am completely serious here.

When did pinatas become racially offensive? And why? Is it the candy? Or the club you beat them with?

What? Tell me! I honestly don't know.

I initially heard about this story on my local news. You can read about the whole story here from the L.A. Times.

"Everyone's an art critic when it comes to a $195,000 mural for the LAPD's new Hollenbeck station.

The tile mural was meant to depict a quaint Sunday in Boyle Heights. Many angry residents say it makes their neighborhood out to be a crime-ridden dump filled with fat women, stray dogs, beer-swilling men and illegal street vendors. And don't get them started about the pinata.

I was mostly ignoring the segment. Everyone seems super sensitive about everything these days - so I tune a lot of this stuff out. Until I heard the East L.A. residents were upset about the pinatas depicted in the mural. That gets your attention. Right?

I mean.. don't get me wrong. The piece does look in bad taste. But what do I know. I'm not enlightened enough to understand art. Ask any artist you critique.

And let me just say - I really dislike tile murals. But really? Pinatas?

Personally - I think tax dollars should not be used for art. I've felt this way since my own city commissioned an art piece for one of our libraries. The only problem was - the art was about famous people in history. But, the artist couldn't spell. There were 11 misspellings in the piece. It was a little embarrassing, and made national news. When our city wanted the artist to fix it - she refused.

For me - there was an even larger issue - California has a law that you can't rip out a piece of art without the artists consent. I think for the amount taxpayers contribute to city art, they should get to rip out whatever craptacular art they want.


  1. Is it still that 10% or so of a public building's budget has to be set aside for art?

    I love making pinatas. However, I will not make one of a person. That just gets kind of weird for me when I think of a bunch of kids beating the crap out of Hello Kitty or something like that.

    The last one I made was for a birthday party for one of Piko's friends. They are Mexican, and live in a prominently caucasian neighborhood. So when we took the pinata out front to smash it, the mother says to me. "My neighbors are probably watching and saying 'Those damn Mexicans!'" It made me laugh.

  2. Man, that's weird. I don't know anything about LA but maybe the problem is it's a stereotype? Like, the neighbourhood has a lot of Latinos and the depiction of a pinata implies...something? (Can you even say Latinos?)

    I live right near Chinatown in my city, and it's actually got signs calling it Chinatown. there are these neat Chinese dragons on the street signs and all kinds of other Chinese decorations. Everyone likes it as far as I know. Not sure why an object associated with a particular culture should be offensive?

    It is completely absurd that the artist's permission is needed to remove their piece. City pays, city owns, city makes the call.

  3. I propose that, if California's law cannot or will not be modified, then taxpayers should run around with tarps, covering all the ugly art.

    As long as it's ripped out without damaging the art, I say yank away. And then dump it in the artist's front yard. If they like it that much, they can find a new home for it.

  4. MDG - 10% sounds about right.

    BV - Yes - the stereotype of children playing happily is one we must squash. Immediately We should also ban chicklets. Which I love BTW. Oh... how.. I.. Love.. them.

    Clearly the Latino's in my town are racists. They still sell them in lots of places. Which is why this whole thing perplexes me.

    Kasia - Can't we get some naked protesters to stand in front of the art? Ones on bikes seem the most popular.

    It seems that is the only kind that are motivated enough to step away from an Xbox.

  5. Actually, the idea of public art is that developers should spend up to ONE percent of the budget on art...not 10 percent.

    It's funny -- the LA Times article linked to in this post makes no mention of pinatas. Maybe the horrible LA local news brought it up. I didn't even SEE a pinata in the photos of the mural in the LA Times article.