Whether Beirut or New Albany, grassroots public art threatens the dogs playing poker.


Public art from the grassroots, spreading up — and not courtesy of the local elites, dribbling down?

The response from the pillars is predictable, whether the particular site is in Beirut or New Albany:

“Local politicians feel threatened.”

Painting and politics: graffiti in Beirut
 (The Economist’s Espresso)

Today Lebanon’s street artists will congregate in Ouzai, a seaside suburb, to put the final touches on an enormous public-art project. Dubbed Ouzville, it was initiated by Ayad Nasser, a local property developer. Much of Ouzai was constructed illegally during Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war; these days it is often labelled a ghetto. But since May, dozens of artists have covered its ramshackle buildings with colourful murals, drawing new visitors to the area, boosting both its reputation and local businesses. It’s not all plain sailing, though. While the police often stop to chat and take selfies with graffiti artists, local politicians feel threatened. They suspect Mr Nasser of lavishing money on Ouzai as a precursor to standing for election. He insists the $100,000 he has spent is simply his way of giving back, and plans to launch a crowd-funding campaign to repeat the project in other poor areas.

Here’s the web site photo credit for the view shown above.

20 Gorgeous Murals in Ouzai’s Ouzville District, at Gino’s Blog

… Of course, I can already hear some of you typing up comments about how painting graffiti on a neglected community won’t really help pull the area out of its tough socioeconomic situation. True. But, art never hurt anyone, and the fact the area is quickly becoming a hot destination for these colorful murals by artists from around the world, it’s certain that more people will be willing to let go of their prejudices about the area and come down and spend a few hours walking around, having a meal, looking for old villas nestled on what used to be the seashore and maybe having a freshly-squeezed cup of juice as airplanes land a few hundred meters next to you.