Bottle Cap mural Saga. Artists and Community are completely heartbroken. [Opinion]

“The mural was a symbol of respect for all living things, and this was an act of disrespect. “

Words from one of the artists who helped create the mural.  Was it miscommunication or a lack of communication from the city? Either way, the Bottle Cap mural which brought much color and smiles to the West End is now gone.

This:

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Photo from Long Beach Matters To You [Facebook]
 Is now this:

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Photo from Long Beach Matters To You [Facebook]
I’m sure the original rebuilding plan involved some type of beige wall. That has since changed now that the city responded to the social media outcry with a promise of some sort of community art project for the new wall. But…… a community art project was there already. And it was a special and unique one.

From The City of Long Beach:

Earlier this week, the City’s contractor responsible for reconstructing the Maryland Avenue parking lot inadvertently demolished the wall that surrounded the lot without first taking down and fully securing as planned the bottle cap artwork project that had been there since 2013. The construction company, in light of the situation, has stepped up and they will be donating $5,000 to the City towards a new community art project.
Once the City was notified that the wall was being knocked down, inspectors were immediately sent to the site to stop work and attempt to salvage what was there. Prior to being inadvertently damaged, the City had reached out to the community who helped create the artwork project to discuss what would be done with it in the future. We will now work with those involved and the children in Long Beach schools who collected and gathered the bottle caps, along with the Council for the Arts, to find out how best to display a component of the project going forward. The Council for the Arts will also now work to place a new community art project in that area in the near future. [LINK]

 

Well… here is what one of the artists had to say:

“Yesterday, @Lisa Be and I [R Hunt ER] received some awful news. The public mural that Lisa spent 2 months constructing in Long Beach, NY after Hurricane Sandy was demolished.

We were given no warning, no notification, no opportunity to preserve the art before they tore down the wall on which it was mounted.

When we first moved to Long Beach, Lisa grew frustrated by the lack of art/color in our community as well as the presence of plastic and garbage on our beaches. She felt the city held more potential. So, after the hurricane destroyed our town, she saw it as an opportunity for a clean slate.

She wanted to raise awareness about plastic debris finding it’s way into our oceans, so she decided to construct the mural entirely out of plastic caps. She enlisted the help of the children of Long Beach. For weeks, kids collected plastic caps and brought us bags upon bags of them, excited to see what they would become. In the end, we collected 30,000 plastic caps, preventing them from reaching their usual inevitable destination…the landfill.

Lisa then spent over a month pulling 12-15 hour days riveting the plastic caps into pieces of sheet metal with the help of a small team of friends. Knowing that money delays and complicates everything, she sought no compensation from the city. She only asked for permission to install this giant piece of art on the wall facing the elementary school, so the kids could see it every day.

To find out that this has been destroyed is a heartbreaking blow to the children, to the community, to the environment, and to Lisa. The mural was a symbol of respect for all living things, and this was an act of disrespect. The mural was symbol of strength in the wake of tragedy. What’s most important to Lisa right now is making sure the children know that this is not okay. No parent should have to have a conversation with their child explaining this situation, because there is no rational explanation.

I spoke with Lisa last night, and she quickly went from mournful to determined. We’re not sure how yet, but she knows she needs to rebuild.

You don’t have to be from Long Beach, NY to care about this story. The word needs to get out for something to happen. There are communities out there that would appreciate a piece like this forever. I urge you to share this so we can make sure this isn’t the end of this story. Thank you.

UPDATE: I had this whole entire thing written out, but of course I deleted it by accident. To say I am disappointed is being kind. I wish the city had a better set of checks and balances to prevent something like this from happening again. I feel incredibly sad for all those involved who poured their heart and soul into this project. The only positive I can find is hopefully this will be an example and set a president for the future. I’m not holding my breath on that though….

Well, The Long Beach Herald has updates on the entire story if you want to read it all here:  liherald.com/longbeach/stories/Community-art-installation-destroyed,73986

 

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