Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This is kind of weird...restoration/repainting of old ghost signs in Salisbury, North Carolina

This story is an interesting one:

Trio works to revitalize advertising signs on buildings


They've organised to repaint an old Coca Cola sign:

"Like many of us, Michael Alexander, Justin Dionne and Nassar Farid Mufdi Ruiz have always noticed these old advertisements on the brick walls and thought how great it would be to restore each one of them."

And further down:

"The men have set up a Facebook page, “Salisbury NC Ghost Sign Restoration Project,” which includes several photos of the signs to be restored in the future.

The daddy of all the ghost signs might be the Wrigley’s gum advertisement high on the back of the Meroney Theater building.
“That would be a great one,” Raker agrees.
Mufdi estimates that a restoration of the Wrigley sign might run between $20,000 and $30,000."

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. put money in, as well as Salisbury's Community Appearance Commission, (the guys are looking for donations to cover the $600 shortfall).

To my view, there's a blurry line here between public art, nostalgia, subjective notions of civic tidiness and advertising. And also a philosophical position involving aesthetics. For me, it's: if you repaint a ghost sign, it turns into something else, especially if what it advertises is still around. It becomes advertising once more, with an edge of commercially-fuelled retrostalgia. The thing about time and survival that I've gone on about previously is erased.

It seems this has come up in the Salisbury dicussions too:

"In recent years, artist Earle Kluttz Thompson had restored a couple of the ghost signs in Salisbury by painting in a patina, so they wouldn’t look spanking new.

But the Public Art Committee agreed with the notion of painting the signs fresh, because that’s what Coca-Cola would have done in years past to update its advertisements."

“It will ‘patina’ with age,” Raker says, “and that is the way this particular artist paints his signs.” "

Curiouser and curiouser. And with parallels (minus the commercial layer) to the recent debate in Melbourne about the Keith Haring mural, and whether or not it should be repainted:


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