To whom it may concern,
My name is Erich Lehman, co-curator of WALL\THERAPY. I also work full time here at RIT, which is where I read the article with Alex Vadas in your September 2014 issue. While Alex is absolutely entitled to his opinion about our efforts, I was troubled by a number of factual inaccuracies that he chose to share that were not fact-checked by the writer.
In regards to WALL\THERAPY, Alex had inquired twice about being a muralist. Both times our roster for each event was booked, and I asked him to send samples of his work, but he never did. As we are a privately funded, curated mural event, no artist gets to paint a mural without a portfolio review or submitted samples of their work. This is not exclusionary, it is simply the economics of the project.
In regards to the Cobbs Hill painting incident, Dr. Wilson has not painted up at the water towers. The issue Alex talks about stemmed from Alex inadvertently painting over a piece painted by HIAR, a young local graffiti artist who passed away in October 2012. While graffiti is by its nature ephemeral, there is a culture of respect for those who have passed, and the piece had remained up for quite some time until Alex unknowingly painted over it. Friends of HIAR from local crews FFL and FUA were understandably upset, and comments were made between Alex and members of those crews on Instagram.
Alex reached out to me at this time through Facebook to get contact information for some of these folks. After sharing that information, I noted that I generally tend to stay out of affairs that don’t concern me (WALL\THERAPY has nothing to do with the Cobbs Hill water towers). I further tried to explain to him that his lack of remorse/understanding through his Instagram comments, not other writers’ egos, was the reason why the majority of people were upset with him. I also suggested that he should try and understand their emotions about his actions. I never heard back from him after that email until I saw his comments in the Reporter article.
WALL\THERAPY is a highly curated city-wide public community-level ‘intervention” using mural art as a vehicle to address our collective need for inspiration and is a project of the Synthesis Collaborative non-profit. It is self-funded and crowd-funded, and has consistently been lauded for its community-centric work and art activism. I am highly concerned when one person’s factually-incorrect anecdote may be many RIT students' only impression of what our project is working towards. We are trying to celebrate our city as a whole, to get residents to explore ALL of the city they live in and break out of their daily routines by exploring new areas of Rochester or to simply brighten their day by stumbling onto a new public mural. We have been working hard for four years through this volunteer-driven project to shine a light on the city we love. It is a shame that your writer did not take the time to double-check the facts of Alex’s comments.
Thank you for your time,
Co-Curator, Lead Organizer