Letter: Art choice about small-town politics

To the editor:

I am immensely disappointed in the Johnson County Community Foundation’s decision to select Gordon Strain as a winning artist for the Color the County Mural Program design contest. A community foundation press release dated Feb. 25 identifies Mr. Gordon Strain as a partner and juror for the contest:

“The Foundation is partnering with the City of Greenwood, City of Franklin, the Town of Bargersville and Gordon Strain, professor of fine arts with Franklin College, to implement the program.

Strain has public art projects experience, including art installations in Cincinnati and window displays at Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor in New York City.

Strain said that public art adds to the quality of life in a community and makes places less intimidating and more welcoming to newcomers.

The design competition is open to all creative entrants from the county. No mural painting experience is necessary. The mural designs should focus on the theme of connecting people who care with causes that matter in Johnson County.

JCCF’s partners and 25th anniversary committee will select the winning mural designs. Once the new mural projects are designed and outlined, the community will be invited to help in the painting process during Color the County Community Days in late summer of 2016.”

The decision to select Mr. Strain, an internal consultant and juror, is unethical and should be an embarrassment to the foundation and to Mr. Strain, who is a professor at Franklin College. Gordon Strain will receive a $1,000 award for his mural which is scheduled to be painted in Franklin on July 30. I was proud of Franklin’s initiative to implement public art, but, alas, small-town politics prevail.

Jessica Bowman Ucul

Lecturer of Photography and Intermedia

Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI