There is a lot of talk regarding the new mural on the side of the Denholm building. Some people love it, while others are not so thrilled with the final painting. I personally am keeping my opinion to myself as I do not want to get caught up in all of the debate surrounding this. Below is an article written by Janice Harvey for Worcester Magazine.
Yes, the Denholm building does not look as pristine as it once did now that it is converted to office spaces, but it is still a historic building in the downtown area. I am planning to be able to devote more of my time to beautify it and present a better street-scape and update some of the interiors. Hopefully the building will be able to gain the respect and prominence that it once held in the downtown area again.
Brush Strokes Written by Janice Harvey · 08/28/2014 · 5:00 am
When former City Manager Mike O’Brien announced to the Worcester City
Council plans to facilitate the installation of a large-scale mural on
the blank wall of the Denholm building, he stressed the purpose of such a
task. In a letter dated August 20, 2013, O’Brien stated that such an
undertaking should be “complementary to the character and history of
both the Downtown and the City as a whole.”
So much for the best-laid plans of city managers, mice and men.
Denholm building is an iconic structure near and dear to life-long
residents of Worcester. Its glory days invoke for many remembrances of a
simpler time, when “Downtown” was a destination spot, when Main
Street’s businesses, some established before the automobile ruled the
road, still enjoyed healthy foot traffic. Denholm’s was Main Street’s
sparkling gem, literally, during the holiday season, when families
jumped into the station wagon and cruised downtown to view the Christmas
lights that graced store windows.
For me, Denholm’s was a place
that deserved my best behavior. When I climbed down from the #30 bus on a
Saturday, I wore my best shoes, a dress normally saved for Sunday Mass
and white gloves on my hands. At the intersection of Main and Franklin,
my police officer father directed traffic wearing his own white gloves,
spinning on his heels and waving his arms like a conductor facing the
orchestra pit. While much has changed since then, the Denholm building
still stands. Though it is no longer a department store, it serves the
community well as a multi-use property. It remains a familiar anchor for
many, and as such, deserves to be treated with respect.
have our own ideas about what constitutes “art”; there are those among
us who consider anything remotely abstract to be “junk,” whose taste
runs this side of Norman Rockwell. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m
no art critic, but I’ve done my share of mural work. I’m what I call a
decent “rip-off artist” - that is, I can copy anything well enough to
get paid for it. I’ve never attempted work on a grand scale, and I
commend those who try. That said, the mural that now covers the Chatham
Street wall of the Denholm building is all wrong. The only part artist
Caleb Neelon got right regarding O‘Brien’s letter is the “character”
part. It’s a cartoon.
The mural would fit right in on a playground
or a schoolyard, but it has no place on our beloved Denholm building.
It makes no connection to the city’s history, and when I described it as
an “epic fail” on Facebook, there was no shortage of opinions posted.
Local journalist Brian Goslow was his usual diplomatic self, choosing to
comment not on the art itself, rather its impact on the area residents:
the young children of Worcester who walk its cold, dirty streets,
finally something is here that speaks to them, inspired by them.”
Brian, but this mural is not viewed exclusively by children walking to
school. If that’s the target audience, paint this on a schoolyard wall.
This mural is silly and amateurish.
Said Edward Moynihan, after
likening the subject to a plastic Kooshball: “The Kooshball is not
constricted by gender or age or ethnicity or race…it excludes nobody…it
resembles nobody. It is inclusive without hitting you over the head with
I disagree, Ed. Why must a city as diverse as Worcester be homogenized in paint?
Florida, retired Worcester cop Tom Belezarian had this to say: “It’s
part of Worcester history…It’s the same as the White House is to
Washington. Would you paint it red or yellow and feel the same? I doubt
I’m inclined to agree, Tom, and not because you were my old man’s partner.
artist Howard B. Johnson Jr. got into the kerfluffle – which some
thought was a good name for the character depicted on the wall – and he
didn’t mince words. “It always has been those with no worldly knowledge
aesthetics and professionalism botching up the making of important
Howard’s proposed artwork was vetoed.
Womag cartoonist Doug Chapel chimed in with this: “This mural says a
lot about how the mural committee people ignored the local talent pool
for no good reason …whitewash this and start over.”
said a whole lot more about being ostracized, and cast off as a rabble
rouser, but you get the picture – no pun intended.
Here’s what I
think should have been painted on the side of the good ship Denholm: its
famous logo. The Denholm bag, with its elegant gold and white stripes
and flowing, bold black script, was as recognizable to Worcesterites as
the City Hall clock, the Union Station towers, and the neon wiener of
Coney Island. Whether it’s art, a monstrosity or an eye sore, one
thing’s for certain: the Kooshball sure caused a kerfluffle.