The Premier Lifestyle Magazine of Florida's Black Communities
After sitting through a City Hall meeting and hearing the mural controversy rear its head again, I had to question the motivations of a man who appears to be on a mission. I’m speaking of Scott Gerber, owner and creator of “The Tube Dude” fad! His apparent defiance over what seems to be a “no brainer” may be the result of a differing in backgrounds than the rebel without a cause act.
In an interview with Tim Jaeger of Sarasota Visual Arts, Gerber described himself as being “one of those guys that would rather fight than ask “how can I help?”. He goes on to recall his first emotional charges from anonymously placing random Tube Dudes around the city. Each bearing some form of positive message like : “SMILE”, “BE NICE” or “SAY THANK YOU”. Whatever the message, the euphoric feeling that he got was enough to convince him that TD was his calling!
After opening shop in March, he’s gone on to make TD available through a distributor network covering 28 states as well as Paris. Not bad for what could have been considered littering!
The Tube Dude facility is located within Sarasota’s HUB (Historically Under-used Business) district. As such, there are certain guidelines that must be adhered to and certain objectives that the City would like to encourage from businesses within the zone. Gerber is proud of his latest accomplishment, the securing of a $100K EDC (Economic Development Grant) grant for the business and speaks of his plans to create jobs for 44 people within the community. All very ambitious endeavors that seem to have garnered the support of many around him. Among those supporters would be Ms. Denise Kowal.
Denise is the organizer responsible for the Sarasota Chalk Festival. Understandably, the intentions to increase awareness of the Rosemary District through art and artful displays may be a valid one. The Sarasota Chalk Festival (which ran from November 1 – 7, 2011) was successfully orchestrated into an event that turned the eyes of the art world towards Sarasota’s Burns Court and Pineapple Business District for a week and made an artform easily mistaken for graffiti something much more wonderful!
Speaking of graffiti, the artist responsible for this work, MTO, is the same individual responsible for the “Berlin Street Fighters Graffiti Contest”. MTO (his actual name is Mateo) hails from Berlin, Germany and has been working in spray since 2008. He was invited to the Sarasota Chalk Festival among 250 other artists. Typically, his works are of celebrities from the music and film industries and are genuine works of art. MTO has gained a global following and is actually considered the best in the genre.
But, the question here is whether the “artwork” displayed on the walls of the Tube Dude building should be considered artwork or eyesore. Many would consider this proof positive that there’s no such thing as “bad” publicity. More alarming are the joint plans between Gerber and Kowal to expand this type of display to other properties within the business zone! Gerber hopes that this type of artistic presentation will serve to attract other artists…or other taggers.
As the City has plans in motion to officially request that the mural be painted over, the message should be clear; when personal displays of “art” cross the line of offense to the viewing public, it’s no longer considered art. Consequently, the wall painting that you see above was not the original finished product. After initial complaint began coming in, it was enhanced with text that makes the image read “It’s a FAST LIFE let love express it!”
Seriously…what does that even mean?