MT readers weigh in on Carl Oxley, 555 Gallery 

Weekly letters to the editor.

click to enlarge COURTESY ILLUSTRATION.
  • Courtesy illustration.

EVERYONE’S A CRITIC

We received a number of strident responses to Michael Jackman’s May 14 cover story on the Packard Banksy:

The most disturbing aspect of Michael Jackman’s otherwise excellent article “Robbing the Banksy” was the portrayal of Carl Oxley as some kind of artistic purist and expert on street art. Calling this poseur an artist is like calling someone who spends a Saturday afternoon building a birdhouse an architect.

About 80 percent of Carl’s art consists of making childish paintings of a smiling monkey’s face. This is a theme that he has repeated over and over and over again for years. Sometimes he puts a crown on the monkey when he is feeling really inspired. His attempts at graffiti are even worse. Most of Mr. Oxley’s artistic career has revolved around recycling the styles and ideas of other artists; originality is something he doesn’t seem to have time for.

What he does excel at is publicity, he seems to enjoy presenting himself as an important creative force on the local art scene. It seems that a ton of ego and an ounce of talent can go a long way around here. —Mick Wade, Dearborn

Reader “Nibor Day” posted:

If the 555 Gallery people need to sell this work to sustain themselves and their gallery, then they will be stealing another piece of art a few years from now to sustain their future. This [is] no way to run a viable gallery or any business. If you have a thread of respect for honest business practices, you will not support the sale of this piece.

In response, reader “Rose” posted:

Nibor, I agree with you. This gallery has a history of alienating the very community it claims to serve. Carl is an incompetent business manager as he, self-admittedly, never has any clue what’s going on. Erik Garant is, to put it nicely, a typical outsider whose only purpose in coming to Michigan was to try to colonize an established community. Their founding member has even cut and run based on politics and infighting. This is not a legitimate business. This is an irrelevant topic of discussion, and if it [hadn’t been] for their theft of art in the first place, they [wouldn’t] even be a news interest. 

Reader “Daar Fisher” wrote:

People find causes to enliven their lives. The 555 team spontaneously went to do difficult work to preserve an artwork under threat. Once others heard about its removal, their raison d’être was a demonstration of righteous indignation without regard for, or interest in, the intent of its preservers. It became about money. (We all want it; we just want to appear not to.) Squawk, squawk, squawk. Oh, how important. Chatter, chatter, chatter. Not a word from Banksy. He, no doubt, enjoyed the squabble — after all, it elevates his reputation and notoriety. Kudos to the preservers. Has any one of them asked Banksy what he thinks? Will he authenticate it?

GARDEN AWAY

We also received some responses to Ari LeVaux’s May 14 feature on killing your lawn before planting a garden. 

If you want to learn how to do the work to plant a vegetable garden next spring, certainly follow the advice in “How to Kill Your Lawn.” If you want to plant a vegetable garden this spring, without doing much work at all, get your advice from Ruth Stout, the no-work, no-dig gardener. In her method, you simply plant the vegetable plants (OK, that took a little work). Then you pile up organic stuff between your plants. She used hay, but recommends using whatever you can get. I use the clippings from the rest of my lawn, coffee grounds, and last autumn’s leaves. The layer of decaying vegetable stuff smothers the lawn, keeps the ground moist, and supplies your plants with fertilizer, all at once. When weeds do come up, she said, do not pull them — too much work — just smother them in more hay. Gardeners around the world have had good results using this method in the past half-century. You might want to give it a try. —Louis Finkelman, Southfield

Clarification: We may have left careful readers scratching their heads with last week’s Metro Retro about the Midland Cogeneration Venture. To clarify, Consumers Energy stopped building its Midland nuclear power plant in 1984, but finished the project as a gas-fired plant in 1991. There is no nuclear plant in Midland. 

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