I’ve figured out why the city of Chattanooga had to invest in the MTE (see previous blog post). Drum Roll, please. It’s to fund all the Urban Art. The other day as I drove to the Brainerd Tunnel, I noticed that the city had turned the ugly weed patch next to the tunnels into a garden. I like gardens—shrubs, flowers, benches, etc. But, then they installed art. They put up a sign saying “Urban Art.” It seems to me that if you have to notify people that something is “art” there’s a problem. Guess what? This Urban Art is ugly. And not ugly like dystopian, darkness of the soul kind of ugly—I get that. Nope. This is cheap, rainbow-y, flying dove, kitschy hideous.
Since the downtown has some beautiful art, I’m wondering if the Brainerd Tunnel Urban Art Garden got the rejects. Here’s what I think happened. Bob the City Councilman, after a few too many beers at the local micro-brewery, approved the city’s purchase of art. After all, Chattanooga is now a destination get-away according to Southern Living magazine. Bob decided that all we need is some art to make it hip so that we can attract rich tourists. Anyway, one day the art arrives. Beautiful bronzes. Yep, says Bob, these are great for downtown. A few odd sculptures. Well, thinks Bob, we’ll put those on Main Street towards Southside. Then, Bob saw the lame stuff. Bob got a little nervous. This is not the stuff you want tourists to see. But he had to do something with it. A lightbulb exploded in Bob’s brain—an urban art garden in Brainerd near the tunnels. No one will see it because they’re all too busy trying to avoid the MTE. Yep, great plan. Except, well, it’s still ugly. I have one question for you, Bob. Can’t we return it?