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Pie in the eye 

Despite his/ her/ their phantom status, Detroit’s irascible terrapin tagger(s) won’t stop stirring trouble, even if it’s only indirectly.

Jef Bourgeau, founding director of the now-homeless Museum of New Art, has announced a bounty on the head of Aaron Timlin, director of the Detroit Artists Market.

Bourgeau and New York graffiti artist Crash are each offering to pay $500 to the first person to throw a vegan pie at Timlin and record the launch on tape.

Bougeau and Crash are miffed that Timlin raised a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the graffiti artist(s) running around town tagging just about everything in sight with the outline of a turtle, including a sculpture outside Detroit Artists Market.

“The art world should not police itself,” says Bourgeau. “You have police to handle those sorts of things. It’s hard enough for an artist to be an artist, a gallery to be a gallery, without the art world making it harder. It’s getting close to art police.”

Graffiti artists are by definition “outside the rules” and shouldn’t be expected to follow them, he adds.

But is offering cash to pie Timlin going too far? “I see it with a sense of humor, more as a performance piece,” says Bourgeau. “I think putting a bounty on an artist is much worse, the consequences facing turtle are more dire.”

According to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, whoever is thinking of answering Borgeau’s call may want to reconsider. Throwing a pie is assault and battery, a 90-day misdemeanor, and if the pie plate is such that someone is injured, it could ramp the charge to a felony. In addition, the bounty, if successful, could be considered conspiracy to commit assault and battery, another 90-day misdemeanor.

But instead of calling the cops, Timlin’s trying to co-opt Bourgeau’s plan.

During a show opening at DAM this Friday a special raffle will be held, with tickets going for $25 a pop. The prize is a vegan pie to throw at Timlin, who will make sure the tossing gets recorded.

“Detroit Artists Market is grateful to MONA’s contributions to our fundraising effort,” says Timlin.

If his word is good, Bourgeau will have to fork over the bounty, no?

Apparently outsmarted at his own game, Bourgeau reacted with grace and wit: “I don’t appreciate Timlin’s effort to turn our outrage at his action to his benefit. It smacks of the art nazi, as does his bounty on an artist.”

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January 20, 2020

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