Rationalizing Lemke’s appreciation
Peter Lemke’s been collecting street art in Chicago, and I was more than surprised to find seven pieces I’d posited around town over the last few years in a display he’d established as part of the innaugural Milwaukee Avenue Arts Fest today, along with a bevy of work from other folk. Mixed emotions; seems he’s operating from an appreciation, but also feels like someone who picks all the flowers out of a community garden to “save them” well before a frost… New City ran this article last week that lends some context. In conversation, Mr. Lemke seems earnest and is readily willing to engage conversation, wants to understand. Publicity has now brought him in touch with doers formerly anonymous to him, and with this engagement hopefully artists can help him understand reciprocity with the objects of his affection they’ve made, how to participate and extend doers’ efforts rather than inadvertently curtail respective agendas. Implicit in sharing art this way is an aversion to conventional galleries and a disruption of capital exchange, money or otherwise — To appreciate the token physical objects planted in public, it’s worth taking stock of underlying motives and reasons for their being. While artists expend resources making artwork that Lemke’s concerned will be removed or painted-over by authorities, perhaps he’d use his resources to provide a sanctioned arena for art that’s avoids any gallery pretense?.. I think of sanctioned mural walls where property owners have designated space and cleared regs with the city to provide an opportunity for public expression, and here again I’d relate the community garden metaphor. Or rather than sequester items intended for public domain, perhaps Lemke could take upon himself to reinstall his collection strategically, extend the work geographically and help evade forces that would eradicate it?… I’m just throwing out some ideas that’d be better than squirrelling away or exhibiting work contrary to artists’ intentions. Confident there are creative ways for Mr. Lemke to participate with integrity in what’s ultimately an open arena. Best of luck in general, Peter. Photo above is Mr. Lemke standing in front of one of mine, and below are six more I’d posited on poles, fences or whatnot someplace circa 2006(?).