This painting on a barn at 14776 U.S. 12, (west of M-50) by artist Bonus Saves mimics The Last Supper by artist Leonardo Da Vinci, and was painted June 22. Officials in Brooklyn are working on an ordinance that would allow them to approve or disapprove murals in the village in the future.
By Matt Schepeler
It looks like the village of Brooklyn will soon be requiring artists to obtain approval from the council as a whole before painting murals on buildings located in the village.
A proposed ordinance change requiring majority approval of the council stems from efforts by businessman and landlord Josh Mitoska to “paint the town,” something the ardent art-lover has been vigorously pursuing. Mitoska has brought artists into the community from around the state and even other countries to paint the back of several of his buildings inside and outside the village.
His latest effort is a rendition of “The Last Supper” painting by Bonus Saves on a barn Mitoska owns on U.S. 12.
Not everyone is a fan of the art, particularly the “skull bunnies” that are prominent in works done by artist Bonus Saves.
If the proposed ordinance is approved by the village, Mitoska or other property owners who wish to put up a mural inside the village would have to submit a sketch or sample of what they want painted before being allowed to go ahead with the project.
This would put village officials in the business of censorship, a role that council members appear willing to accept.
At least one village resident spoke in favor of the village harnessing more control over what goes up on village buildings.
Judy Blackburn said that she would describe the paintings on the back of village buildings as “railroad art.”
“I don’t find it appealing,” she said, adding that she and her husband, Paul, once went into a town with similar art on the buildings, and they would not stop.
“I just think you guys should be able to have a say of what is going to go on the side of our buildings,” she said.
“I think it is your job to make sure that our village is appealing to people passing through, so they maybe would want to stop and have an ice cream.”
The council seems to agree, though the possibility of censoring artists would be a role that council members likely did not know they were signing up for when deciding to run for office.
“I don’t want to say to the [owner of another building] ‘yes, we like your mural because it is a cherry tree, and we like cherry trees. But not tell Josh he cannot put something he designed on the same kind of a street because of whatever,” said trustee Stella Roberts.
“I don’t want to give Josh a reason to say, ‘well, you let this guy do it. You like him better than me.’’’
Trustee Phil Bliven said he did not mind taking on the role, but stressed that the council make sure they have a policy in place that cannot be manipulated.
“I don’t have a problem policing this, I really don’t, because I don’t want to see something get out of hand with it. I think it has to be policed, I just think we need to be careful how we do it.”
Exactly what offends people was also discussed. J.B. DeJeu said that he remembers a work called “Piss Christ” by Andres Serrano, “where a guy urinated in a bell jar and put a crucifix in it and they called it art.”
“There was a big uproar, and it was offensive to me, and a lot of people, but you know what? They still showed it. I don’t think that is going to happen, but, well, you never know…”
While council members appear to be in unity of taking on the responsibility of approving or disapproving murals in the future, they are still working on the mechanics of the proposal. They are considering forming a three-man advisory committee to make recommendations to the council, and are also considering having requests come directly to them.
Connie Douglas is in favor of having requests come directly to the council rather than through an advisory committee.
“There doesn’t have to be a committee,” she said.
No action was taken in the matter, but the council instructed manager Jae Geutschow to put together language to update the mural policy and bring it back to the council.