Some folks, or should I say some municipalities, just never learn. Silly me! I thought, in the aftermath of the 2016 ‘American Nocturne’ debacle, Elgin was getting out of the public art business for good. As those great philosophers Great White sagely intoned, “Once bitten, twice shy,” right?
But no! Utterly undaunted by those previous capacity city council crowds where people went completely bonkers over a painting, the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission is soliciting applications to “transform” two downtown utility boxes into “art canvases.”
Aside from electrocuting an aspiring artist or two, what could possibly go wrong with that? All I can say is, where’s George Santayana when you really need him?
For reference purposes, local artist David Powers’ ‘American Nocturne’ mural stood sedately on the streets of Elgin for more than a decade before an observer finally realized it captured the bottom half of a photograph of an infamous 1930 Marion, Indiana, lynching.
Then, despite the fact that it directly skewered those white spectators, the bovine excrement hit the fan and the painting was removed and stored away somewhat similarly to the lost Ark of the Covenant. That was the point at which yours truly accurately advised Elgin to forever abandon any effort to sponsor public art. But since no one ever listens to me, they’re gonna give it another shot.
Now, I would be the first one to submit an application, but I have even less artistic talent than the late Jackson Pollack and Christo. C’mon! Jet engine exhaust paintings and wrapping a bleepin’ island in bedsheets is NOT art.
But I digress!
Since I lack the appropriate skillset, and in light of my eminently magnanimous nature, I’ve gone to great mental lengths to provide those eager applicants with the kind of quality utility box inspiration that only leads to great things. So, without further ado, here’s my Top Ten proposal list for Elgin utility box paintings/murals:
1. A depiction of former U-46 School Board member, Traci Ellis, firmly grasping a roll of toilet paper in one hand and an American flag in the other as she self-righteously expounds on the Jussie Smollett and Aurora shooting events while getting every possible detail wrong.
2. City Councilman Terry Gavin getting into a fistfight with some Elgin senior citizens who showed up at city hall to protest a lack bus stop benches. That one actually makes me a little verklempt!
3. Former City Councilman John Prigge turning his back to the council dais in protest of Rose Martinez’ appointment to that same body.
4. Overly entitled and beyond pompous City Council hopeful, Baldemar Lopez, threatening yet another politician or group that he’ll “remember the people who supported him.” (We’ll be talking a lot more about Mr. Lopez going forward!)
5. A proud display of my 2010 Elgin City motto contest winner “The Nut Capital of Illinois!” It still beats the pants off “The City in the Suburbs” hands down.
6. City Councilman Corey Dixon pounding his fist on the dais as he demands that all Elgin police officers immediately be fired for their obvious collusion with Lt. Chris Jensen.
7. A bald Rose Martinez fervently declaring that she really shaved her head as an homage to her favorite columnist.
8. Judge John Dalton and State Senator Cristina Castro’s legislative aide Rich Jacobs regularly using Elgin Township Supervisor Franklin Ramirez as their private limo service on company time.
9. Councilwoman Tish Powell as a marionette regularly being manipulated by that same Ms. Ellis.
10. And perhaps what might be favorite choice, the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission being led into a local veterinarian’s office to be neutered for failing to take any kind of stand on the ‘American Nocturne’ mural.
I understand that, with just two utility boxes and ten amazing options, the choice will be a difficult one. But such is my vast love for the City of Elgin.
But before we go, I would also like to encourage my adoring throng to weigh in with their own artistic utility box thoughts which will be gloriously covered in an upcoming column. Until then!