At the corner of Carroll and Wood in the industrial part of town, just south of the railroad tracks and an Allied Waste transfer station — an open warehouse piled with two stories of garbage — alongside a corrugated metal warehouse, dingy and drained, someone tried to make the world pretty.
It didn’t go well.
It was a wall. A short, small, wooden wall alongside the metal one. It was the length and size of three rolling chalkboards from a ’50s grade school. Four-by-eights driven into the ground alongside the warehouse held up plywood. The plywood held up paintings of nature scenes.
Nailed to the wall in as close to order as the artist could get, the rectangle frames ranged from tiny closeups of prairie plants to sprawling scapes of southern bayous. Here fluffly clouds, here the happiest of trees, the loveliest of fields, frilly, ruffly squiggles of paint for hedges and bushes and tropical sunsets.
None of them were very good.
They were more Bob Ross than Ansel Adams, but I loved these misaligned frames and happy trees. I loved them because someone put them there. I loved them because someone loved them. I loved them because someone wanted to remind the world there’s life beyond gray warehouses, cracking industrial alleys, passing commuter trains and gull-ravaged garbage piles.
Someone wanted to remind the industrial corridor nature is out there.
Of course it got defaced.
Here paintings ripped, torn, shredded out of frames. Here one covered in stickers saying “HELLA DUMBASS AMOUNTS OF OUT HERE AMUSE DEFINITELY EVERYWHERE,” whatever the hell that means. Here stickers saying “Lady Mass” tattooed on knuckles clutching bike handlebars.
Here simple spray paint graffiti, names and tags of the kind I would like if they weren’t covering something I would like more.
Sometimes the world seems determined to be ugly.
Gulls and garbage, cracking streets and an artist who got punished for showing the world something he or she thought was lovely.