Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Restroom Dialogue

Most restaurants restrooms are somewhat generic. If you're lucky, they're clean and functional. They're not a place you go for art or even decor, really. The operators of the businesses are trusting their customers to not steal or trash the place, and that tends to keep the removable objects to a minimum.

With that as context, here's something I recently saw on the wall inside one of the restrooms in a small restaurant/coffeeshop in Saint Paul:

It's a board, about four feet in width. Note the handwriting five lines from the top on the upper right side. Here's a close-up of that part:

Finally, there are two other, identical signs attached on the left and right sides of the board that look like this:

(A computer-generated sign that reads: Dear Righteous Vandal, I am all for freedom and everyone having an opinion. However, I pay thousands of dollars per month for this space, not you. Inserting your opinion by permanent marker on my property and in my space is is not only cowardly (hiding in a public bathroom) but illegal. So you virtuous vandal and "child of your mom," I am sure she would be just as disappointed in you and baffled by your selfish choice as I am. Seeing as you enjoy writing, you can make the check out to [name] for the $170 piece of art you ruined. I will wait.)

Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when I saw this. I actually saw the orange zigzag frame first, then read the "dear righteous vandal" text, and then finally noticed the handwriting on the larger text.

I had never noticed the four-foot board before, and I personally would not consider a bunch of Times Roman text set at a fairly hard-to-read width and printed on a board as artwork, per se. But, no, I would not — at least at my current age — consider writing on a sign like this in a restroom, even if I disagreed with the sentiment. (Well, maybe if it was fascist or something, but I like to think I wouldn't be in that restroom to start with.)

At the same time, this interaction between a proprietor and a customer makes for a unique bit of art all on its own, an installation about the nature of private property and free expression.

It made for a thoughtful visit to the restroom.

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