The photo on Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's Facebook page. (Facebook.com)
Oakland mayor posts D.M. art installation as example of her city’s blight
Published on March 11th, 2014 | by Josh Hafner
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan posted a photo of a boarded-up, paint-tagged house onto her Facebook page Monday as an example of “illegal dumping, graffiti, dilapidation and other forms of blight” that her city’s residents should report.
The problem: The house depicted is in Des Moines, not Oakland. It’s not illegally graffitied either. And to Des Moines artist Jordan Weber, it’s not everyday urban blight; it’s an art installation making a statement.
“Wrong city Mayor Quan!” Weber commented under the post. “Owner of the property gave permission and worked with the artist as well.”
By artist, Weber meant himself, and by permission, Weber meant the OK to paint patterns mimicking the French fashion hosue Louis Vuitton on a run-down house at University Avenue and 15th Street.
Weber painted the luxury brand’s logo on the boarded-up home as a critique, he said, before snapping the photo that found its way to Quan’s page.
Roughly three hours after Weber’s comment under the photo, a reply came from the mayor’s account:
“Hello, this is her assistant, Michael. I posted this one as an example of the types of blight that you might see in parts of Oakland. The LV print made it different and I thought the picture might get attention. My apologies to the artists who worked on this blighted property.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the photo of the Des Moines home was not visible in the primary feed of Quan’s Facebook page. It remained accessible in the page’s photos section.
Weber said a California-based photographer alerted him to the photo’s usage on Quan’s Facebook page in case he wanted to take action. He took the borrowed photo in stride, noting that his work on the worn-out house borrowed without permission from Louis Vuitton.
The installation finished four months ago, according to Weber, who said he received the permission of a family friend who owns the property. The artist plans to complete a series on installations on otherwise vacant or abandoned properties in Des Moines’ urban core, he said, with two sites currently slated.
“There will be more attempts to shock my generation from apathy while perturbing routine inner-city blight hopefully resulting in action away from material possessions,” Weber said to the Oakland mayor in his Facebook comment. “If you have degradation in Oakland neighborhoods and want to do the same, please allow me to propose other plans so we can work together in improving the quality (of) life in these areas!”