DOWNTOWN PARTNERSHIP SNUBS HOMEGROWN ARTISTS IN DEAL TO FAVOR NW ARKANSAS PAINTER AND LOCAL ART SELLER
On October 18, 2018, an artist named Jason Coy Jones out of Fayetteville, know for his altered thrift store art mocking religious themes...
painted a mural on Main Street in downtown Little Rock, AR. His 2018 mural was part of the InspiredLR mural project, an initiative of Downtown Little Rock Partnership's Public Spaces Committee. Click here for the CoC press release.
On May, 14, 2019, the same InspiredLR mural project, an initiative of Downtown Little Rock Partnership's (an arm of the Chamber of Commerce "CoC") Public Spaces Committee announced the winning artist for a competition they held for the creation of a separate mural by an Arkansasartist on the Union National Plaza Building at 124 W. Capitol Ave.
Why not a Little Rock artist?
Because the CoC and their Downtown Partnership don't really give a flying fuck about Little Rock. If they really did, they could have used this to promote and showcase Little Rock artists.
Could it have been that the artist from Little Rock that applied were folk of color?
The winner was to be awarded a $30,000 grant.
We put in a call to Gabe Holmstrom, DLRP Executive Director to ask if public funds were used to fund the grant. Our call was not returned by the time of publication.
Well, the he winning artist was Jason Jones.
That's right, the same Jason Jones who painted the 2018 Main Street mural as part of the InspiredLR mural project, an initiative of Downtown Little Rock Partnership's Public Spaces Committee. Click here for the CoC press release.
This is what Jones said in an interview:
“Last year, I had the pleasure of painting a small, temporary mural on Main Street. My time was really special when I was painting the mural downtown. People, who I had never met, were so kind and hospitable to me-- they brought me food, gave kind remarks, and even high-fived me. It will be nice to create a large permanent mural that will add to the landmarks of downtown Little Rock, and to give back to the community that welcomed me with open arms.”
How about the Downtown Partnership (CoC) giving back to the local artists and let their work be displayed to show what the city has to offer.
What Jones failed to mention is that "small temporary mural" that he painted on Main Street in 2018, was was part of the InspiredLR mural project, an initiative of Downtown Little Rock Partnership's Public Spaces Committee. That's right, the same two groups who awarded Jason Jones the $30,000 grant to complete the mural on the Union National Plaza Building at 124 W. Capitol Ave by the end of June, 2019.
Jones and the InspiredLR mural project, an initiative of Downtown Little Rock Partnership's Public Spaces Committee should have let the losing contestants and public know this fact. In these types of competitions, participants are routinely not able to apply if they've had any affiliations with the competition organizers.
Jones was chosen and awarded the $30,000 grant a mere 7 months after painting their first mural.
This is a clear ethical violation and a conflict of interest. What they did is not fair to the other 70 plus artists who submitted to the contest. many who were from right here in the city.
They should have been told that Jones, the winner of their $30,000 grant had worked with the InspiredLR mural project, an initiative of Downtown Little Rock Partnership's Public Spaces Committee on a mural 7 months earlier in 2018.
Hence, the judges and selection committee were already familiar with the look and style of Jones' work, which gave him a clear advantage during the judging process. Thus, it cannot qualify as a blind judging due to the fact that all of the 70 plus artists who submitted to the competition did not have the same opportunity.
And he had White Privilege working for him.
Another sketchy thing is that Jones has or will have work for sale at M2 Gallery.
We wonder what backroom deals Mac Murphy made with Jones and the CoC?
The citizens of Little Rock and the local artists who were cheated deserve to know the truth.
Will we get the truth from the CoC/Downtown Partnership?
Stay tuned for updates.
***UPDATE - 5/26/19***
Turns out that the NWA rescued thrift store art doodler has stolen all or part of his latest mural in the works in downtown LR from Dallas artist Chris Arnold.
Back in the 1990's, Arnold completed a mural in Dallas titled "Mass Transit". You can read about it by clicking here.
As the article mentions, the committee in Dallas looked for artists outside the city just like they did here in Little Rock.
More than one reader has sent us messages about the similarities, evne in the first stages.
Arnold also painted a mural in Hot Springs. You can read about that by clicking here and here.
Stay tuned for more updates.