EDITORIAL: Keeping tabs on local culture | Opinion

Local residents who have been following current events in the town of Tahlequah have had a lot to discuss lately, and one topic that ruffled some feathers was the downtown murals and a new owner’s decision. company to paint on one of them on his building.

Business owners are not from these regions, and there is nothing wrong with that; the city cannot grow and develop if entrepreneurs and businesses do not want to settle there. But what has upset many involved in the art community is the fact that the paint job appears to have occurred without any warning or public discussion of the intrinsic value of the original painting. Two factors are at work here: one is commercial in nature and the other is a cultural consideration specific to this city.

First, a real estate company has every right to sell a property to whomever they want, as long as the process is compliant, and that goes without saying, as long as the new owner is not a criminal. And the new owner also has the right to do whatever they want with their property in terms of aesthetics, as long as that decision doesn’t challenge local ordinances or other laws.

Second, these murals have become an essential part of the fabric of Tahlequah and one of many special aspects of the town’s character that attract tourists to the area. Many business owners have chosen to hire artists to produce these beautiful pieces for the exterior walls of their buildings. Sometimes organizations have funded the work or helped with a community project. But either way, the artist was someone with an excellent reputation who poured his heart and soul into the ongoing project, hoping that his work would be enjoyed by audiences for many years to come. .

Some businessmen buying a building may have different designs in mind, and they are perfectly entitled to make changes. But it would demonstrate a remarkable sense of community if, before doing so, they spoke to local residents and immersed themselves in at least the first two layers of the city’s history. This would mean, above all, learning more about the Cherokee Nation.

Our understanding at this point is that the owner of the building – which is now a vibrant pink and blue combination that some find objectionable – should extend an olive branch to the artist and others who helped bring this to life. particular wall painting. Another fresco could see the light of day, if all goes well. But moving forward, newcomers to this community — and any other, for that matter — should take steps to find out what life is like in their new hometown and plan accordingly, with at least some respect. for those who came before them. .

Perhaps in the meantime, the city council could consider some sort of ordinance protecting these murals to some extent, while still allowing businesses appropriate leeway.