Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Heap of City Kitties

A Heap of City Kitties

By Tom Wachunas

Every time I walk north on Cleveland Avenue, through the heart of the Canton Arts District and approaching the northeast corner of Fifth Street, I cringe as I behold that monstrous excuse for public art called “Shattered Expressions.” Those sickly-colored faces are unavoidable and joyless reminders (despite the one that purportedly conveys joy) that Canton’s much-ballyhooed celebration of its public art installations might be a little overdone, if not a tad premature. And as if to add insult to injury, those sculpted masks of mediocrity seem like ghoulish sentinels overlooking the pale yellow metal duckie plunked down across the intersection on the southeast corner. That particular sculpture is a magnetic work, to be sure. Evidenced by the garbage accumulated at the bottom of its belly, it’s a magnet for urban litter. Duck droppings indeed.

Ahhh, but hope rules the day. Sometime in late July, a new public art work will appear, interestingly enough, very near “Shattered Expressions,” on an exterior wall of the HEAP Building at 201 Fifth Street NW. The work, DOWNTOWN CATS MURAL, is by Vicki Boatright, who is widely known as BZTAT, and was commissioned by Tim Belden and the Timothy S. Belden Charitable Fund, with support from ArtsinStark and Canton Development Partnership.

The mural (BZTAT’s mock-up is the accompanying image for this post) is comprised of four 4’ x 8’ wood panels, each depicting a cat on a window sill. The windows are simply fashioned in a manner harmonious with the style of the building, and in an interesting twist of perspective, we as viewers are “inside,” like the cats, seeing a city skyline outside the windows. The whole affair is rendered with the crisp BZTAT signature look of fluid, robust shapes that dance in brilliant colors. In all, it’s a delightfully whimsical and bold feline fantasy that will hopefully neutralize the cloying weirdness of its shattered neighbors.

These cool cats will have the upper scoop, as it were, on much of the city litter parading as public art these days.


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