It’s hard to know what Lantern restaurant owner Andrea Reusing was thinking when someone painted black over the Michael Brown mural that had stood on the side of building for more than two decades.
The award-winning chef isn’t speaking about it and did not return calls last week.
Here’s what we do know.
Reusing has probably done as much as Brown to keep downtown Chapel Hill vibrant. (Granted, you have to pay to enjoy Reusing’s culinary contributions, and you can enjoy Brown’s splendid artwork for free.)
Also, by emphasizing locally sourced foods, Reusing has bolstered the farm-to-table movement that employs local growers. She has been a guest chef at the Carrboro Farmers Market for years.
So let’s give Reusing the benefit of the doubt and figure she had a reason for painting the so-called “Musical Youth” mural black. It’s her wall, and even the artist concedes he knows his paintings may not last.
Like the YMCA and its racquetball ruckus, where the chef seems to have erred was in the execution.
She should have understood the personal connection many feel to the downtown murals – heck, this one was even turned into a postcard by the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.
Some are already suggesting Reusing make good by commissioning a new mural. That’s one suggestion.
Here’s another: Let’s have the town inventory its murals, talk with the property owners about their signficance and politely ask to be notified when owners plan changes that would destroy or alter them.
Then let’s consider painting future murals on public property, where their future can be ensured. The best way to protect downtown art is to own the canvas.