Federal judge to Bloomington: Create criteria for public art requests in right-of-way, allow application for “All Lives Matter” street mural

Bloomington could see an “All Lives Matter” mural painted on a downtown city street, after previously authorizing three “Black Lives Matter” street murals.

That’s because of a ruling from a federal judge last Friday.

Under Friday’s ruling, by Jan. 2 next year, the city of Bloomington has to  come up with the procedures that private groups and people can use to request approval for use of the city’s rights-of-way to display public art.

The order says that the city has to “promulgate” the application procedure to the public within 45 days of the order, dated Nov. 18, 2022. The public that is described in the order explicitly includes Indiana University student Kyle Reynolds and the Indiana University Chapter of Turning Point USA, who filed suit against Bloomington in late February.

In their lawsuit, Reynolds and Turning Point asked the Monroe County circuit court to issue an injunction requiring the city of Bloomington to allow Reynolds to paint a street mural that states “All Lives Matter” on Kirkwood Avenue in front of the Von Lee building.

The “All Lives Matter” slogan is associated with opposition to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Continue reading “Federal judge to Bloomington: Create criteria for public art requests in right-of-way, allow application for “All Lives Matter” street mural”

Public works notebook: Scooter contracts, underpass mural repair, sidewalk fines

Bloomington’s short-handed board of public works still worked its way through a Tuesday agenda that included: renewal of the $10,000 annual licenses for two scooter companies; an agreement with an artist to refurbish the 7th Street underpass mural; two public improvement bond estimates; and a noise permit for a Rally for Life event.

The three-member board has one open seat, due to the resignation of Dana Henke, which was effective at the end of the year. For Tuesday’s meeting, that still left a quorum in the form of Kyla Cox Deckard and Beth Hollingsworth. Acting as president for Tuesday’s meeting was the board’s secretary, Kyla Cox Deckard.

Public works director Adam Wason indicated at Tuesday’s meeting that it is hoped a replacement for Henke would be named in time for the board’s next meeting on Jan. 19. Continue reading “Public works notebook: Scooter contracts, underpass mural repair, sidewalk fines”

New Bloomington mural, planned renaming of street both send same message: Black Lives Matter

Last week came the announcement that a Bloomington task force has recommended new names for two parts of Jordan Avenue, a north-south street that splits the Indiana University campus.

In its report, the task force recommended renaming Jordan Avenue south of 17th Street as Eagleson Avenue.

North of 17th Street, the street is recommended to be called Fuller Lane.

Both names honor the contributions of Black residents to Bloomington.

The announcement of the task force report came just a month after the installation of a “Black Lives Matter” mural—on the street that is now slated to be renamed for four-generations of the Eagleson family, starting with Halson Vashon Eagleson who was born a slave in 1851.

According to the task force report, Halson Eagleson arrived in Bloomington in the 1880s and became a prominent barber. His five children attended Indiana University. The report describes how in 1910, he opened Industrial City, a home for “colored” orphans in Unionville.

Joa’Quinn Griffin, an Indiana University student who helped lead the effort to install the street mural, told The B Square that the choice of Jordan Avenue was deliberate, for two reasons.

First, the mural would provide a counterpoint to the legacy of the past IU president for whom the street was named. David Starr Jordan was a proponent of eugenics, which advocates for the improvement of the human species through selective mating.

Second, the place on Jordan Avenue selected for the mural installation is in front of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

Continue reading “New Bloomington mural, planned renaming of street both send same message: Black Lives Matter”

Split votes on race-related topics by city, county electeds

Wednesday is the usual meeting day for two local elected bodies—Bloomington’s city council and Monroe County’s board of commissioners. This week they each approved legislation involving anti-racist efforts.

The city council approved a resolution endorsing a proposal for art featuring the phrase “Black Lives Matter.”

The county commissioners approved a $292,500 contract with a consultant to provide diversity training.

Both approvals came without the full support of the elected groups. In a rare non-unanimous vote on the three-member county board, commissioner Penny Githens dissented on the approval of the diversity training contract.

On the city council, Dave Rollo abstained from the vote on the art project, which left the proposal with eight of nine city councilmembers in support of it.

Continue reading “Split votes on race-related topics by city, county electeds”

People’s Park mural will say “BLACK LIVES MATTER” at least through August, maybe a few months longer

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On June 19, 2020, the “Welcome to Bloomington, you belong here” mural at People’s Park in Bloomington was painted over with the phrase, “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

At their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington arts commissioners discussed the future of the People’s Park mural.

Three weeks ago, on the day of Juneteenth (June 19)—a celebration marking the emancipation of slaves in the U.S.—the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” were painted over the top of the existing mural. The Bloomington Arts Commission (BAC) had commissioned artist Eva Allen to paint it in 2017.

The addition to the mural came in the context of of nationwide and local demonstrations, prompted by Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women. Floyd was killed on May 25 by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, when the police officer pinned Floyd down with a knee-on-neck hold.

On Wednesday, Bloomington’s assistant director for the arts, Sean Starowitz, described the layering of the phrase over the top of the existing mural as a “well-intentioned addition the mural, in terms of the color choice and how it was laid out.”

The Wednesday meeting took place in the context of anti-racism demonstrations that took place on each of the previous days, prompted by recent local incidents.

He told BAC members that “repairs” would not be done to the mural, and it will not be “buffed”—which is the technical term for painting over a mural to make the wall blank again. That’s due in part to the fact that the contract with Allen—who painted the “Bloomington” mural—expires at the end of August.

After that, the future of the wall is uncertain, because the mural is part of a public-private partnership that includes the owners of the Bicycle Garage, whose wall is the canvas for the mural.

Right now, it looks like the maximum time the current state of the wall would persist involves a scenario where the owners don’t paint it over, and the BAC administers a public process for hiring an artist who’ll conduct community engagement— something that might take around six months. Continue reading “People’s Park mural will say “BLACK LIVES MATTER” at least through August, maybe a few months longer”

Activist on “BLACK LIVES MATTER” mural overlay: “It’s something we can all dance to.”

Sometime mid-afternoon on Friday a week ago, an anonymous artist, not commissioned by the property owners, drew new letters across the mural in Bloomington’s People’s Park, spelling out the words: “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

That’s the way the mural will look for at least the next few months, Bloomington city officials have said. And some local activists would like the wall to be preserved as it is. Continue reading “Activist on “BLACK LIVES MATTER” mural overlay: “It’s something we can all dance to.””

Ribbon cut for Monroe County family planning clinic entrance art

Speaking into a PA microphone Friday afternoon, standing just south of the 7th and College intersection in downtown Bloomington, Penny Caudill said, “We walk into work and we smile!”

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On Thursday (Aug. 1, 2019), artist Gypsy Schindler, applies a clear coat to her mural along the entrance ramp to the lower level of the Monroe County Health Building, which stands on the southeast corner of 6th Street and College Avenue. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Caudill, who’s Monroe County’s health administrator, was talking to artist Gypsy Schindler, who just recently completed a mural on the wall that leads along the ramp to the lower-level entrance of the county’s health building. The art depicts kids playing—riding bicycles, kicking a soccer ball and jumping rope.

A ribbon cutting for the mural was the main event for the health department open-house on Friday. It was part of the “Ramp Up Awareness” project for the Futures Family Planning Clinic, which is housed on the lower level of the health building. Continue reading “Ribbon cut for Monroe County family planning clinic entrance art”