Controversy Over Removal Of Artwork In City

September 15, 2018 | 94 Comments

[Updated] Both the artist and Corporation of Hamilton have spoken out about the removal of a mural in the City, with the City saying as the art “strayed from criteria” they “made the regretful decision to paint over the work so that it does not violate City policy and set a precedent going forward,” while the artist who painted the mural, April Branco, said “not one single ‘policy’ of which the City spoke of was presented to me at the outset of this project,” adding that she is “appalled at the blatant lack of respect the City has shown for local art and artists.”

Artist April Branco Expresses Disappointment Mural Has Been Removed

In a post on social media, Ms Branco said, “I have never been so Enraged, Disgusted and Heartbroken. On the ludicrous grounds that it was ‘biased’ my nearly completed Gombey mural, a tribute to the H&H Troupe was removed from its location at City Hall car park today.

“Three upstanding black men were whitewashed because their ‘characters had not been vetted. Despite continuous appeals to the administration and the Mayor, Corporation of Hamilton refused to allow me to finish this mural and demanded I remove the portraits.

Asking what is “wrong with this country,” Ms Branco added, “I’ll tell you what’s wrong, we like Gombeys but not black men. We think a mask is more worthy than a man.

Photo via Ms Branco’s social media:

April Branco Artwork (1)

“I live in a country that still in 2018, would rather tree frogs and butterflies to decorate the city than it’s own people. For the first time in my life I am ashamed to be Bermudian.

“For the first time in my life I’ve relinquished the belief that art is my life’s purpose. My spirit has never felt so broken,” she added.

City Responds: Says Art ‘Strayed From Criteria’, So Made Decision To Remove To Not ‘Set A Precedent’

In response, the City said, “It is with deep regret that the City has made the decision to remove the mural by artist April Branco near the taxi stand on Church Street.

“For the last three years, the City, through the City Art Festival, has endeavoured to highlight local artists and feature their work in an effort to beautify and increase the vibrancy of Hamilton, at the same time, giving the chosen artists a public canvas to display their art.

“Each piece around the City was vetted to ensure that it met the criteria of the Art Festival based on the City’s policies. This is the first piece to be installed that unfortunately strayed from that criteria after the original artwork had been approved.

“Painting over the mural was the last and least desired result of this unfortunate dispute and Ms. Branco was offered the chance to revert back to her original submission. She declined.

Photo provided by City of the “original submission approved by the City”

Branco submission

“Ms. Branco, in good faith and because of her supreme artistic talent, was selected to paint the mural as part of the City Art Festival’s public art initiative. She was chosen after careful consideration of her initial submission of her intended artwork.

“As the work started, the original submission was sketched on the wall but as installation continued, it came to the City’s attention that the work actually being painted was not what Ms. Branco has originally submitted to the City and what had been deemed appropriate according to the criteria of the City Arts Festival in line with the City’s policies.

“Ms. Branco admitted she had abandoned the initial submission and was painting a very similar yet different image. There was no consultation with the City on the change and the City is of the opinion that the second image violates the criteria of the City Art Festival that follows the City’s policy.

“After extensive email exchanges as well as a meeting with the Mayor and Festival coordinators, Ms. Branco has continued to refuse to revert back to the original artwork she submitted, a decision that would have saved the artwork. The City has therefore made the regretful decision to paint over the work so that it does not violate City policy and set a precedent going forward.

“It is not the City’s policy to practice favouritism and Ms. Branco’s decision to paint only members of a particular local Gombey troupe did just that. She was offered the opportunity to paint the captains of each active Gombey troupe in Bermuda that would have still met the criteria and would have been seen to be more inclusive but she declined.

“Ms. Branco has agreed to make restitution to the City Art Festival for the money she was advanced for the artwork. It is unfortunate that she has resorted to a campaign on FaceBook to smear the City directly and completely violate its policy to remain apolitical and unbiased, especially when it comes to public art.”

Ms Branco’s Response: Policy Was Not Presented To Me At Outset

Following the City’s statement, Ms Branco responded, saying, “In response to the Corporation of Hamilton’s statement, let me be exceptionally clear:

“First: Not one single ‘policy’ of which the City spoke of was presented to me at the outset of this project. Not one. They are nowhere in writing and no parameters or guidelines about the portraits, troupe bias or troupe selection was discussed. At all.

“I am an H&H artist, have been since the beginning and anyone with an internet connection would and should know this, the initial layout contains, in its entiriety, H&H Gombeys; dancers, drummers and regalia, which would immediately be recognizable to anyone familiar with the troupe. A portrait artist requires source material to execute a realistic representation of the subject. What source material would I use except my own extensive database from my years working with the H&H troupe?

“No enquiry was made regarding my source material or the people featured, and no guidelines were given for the execution of this piece. When I discovered that the wall space allocated was smaller than initially discussed, I immediately approached the project coordinator and informed her asking how I should proceed. Her response in its entirety was ‘do what you feel is best, this is your project, use your artistic judgment’ which set the tone for me for all the proceedings going forward.

“Second: This mural did not ‘stray entirely away from the criteria for the original artwork’. The City coordinator requested a Gombey themed mural with ‘large colorful faces.’ At the outset a folder of sample material was provided to be reviewed. I reverted to the sample images chosen by Corporation staff to create this new layout which was more dynamic and fed off the root inspiration.

“Third: ‘Painting over this mural was the last and least desired result of this unfortunate dispute’ is utter and complete garbage. It was the first and only option presented to me during this entire proceeding. I was never offered the opportunity to complete it, continue, or revise it. The two options I was given were to remove it and replace it with the original design, or remove it and replace it with ever troupe’s Gombey captains. In both instances the removal was required.

“In fact, no further payments were to be made to me until I agreed to remove it. Something I was not willing to do as it seemed an unreasonable solution. There is another Gombey mural in progress for Tills Hill, and I suggested the artist be allowed to attribute hers to a specific troupe, now, as it was already in progress the City would have 2 of the 5 active Gombey troupes already represented. The other three could be allocated space around Hamilton and artists allowed to celebrate them in their own fashion. This suggestion was completely ignored! The Corporation always intended for this mural to be removed. Despite my requests, no steps were taken for the board to proceed with an approval or ‘vetting’ process to allow these men public space.

“Fourth: If I was chosen based on my ‘supreme artistic talent, after careful consideration,’ the City should have been completely informed via newspaper articles, my website and social media that I am soley an H&H Artist and would be logically representing them in my Gombey mural.

“Fifth: The Corporation coordinator for this project was informed about the changes to the mural which would include ‘more colorful faces’ before any paint touched the walls. This transpired during the Fashion festival, in person, which she admitted to remembering and also admitted she did nothing with that information. She did not inform her superiors, she didn’t request a revised layout, she did not inform me that board approval was required for any changes. She did nothing. She praised the work on social media, reposting my Royal Gazette article to the City’s Instagram page, which clearly stated I had changed the layout from the initial design.

“In addition, despite her lack of follow through with her superior, the project manager and the Mayor read the article in the paper and made no enquiry as to the changes. The first portrait featured in the article was clearly a digression from the mural in my initial design, something they observed. The time to question any of this was immediately upon reading the Gazette article. The coordinator and manager admitted that they assumed eventually it would include some of the initial layout which was behind this painting on the wall and that they were waiting to see what the changes were and how the changes would progress.

“They were completely aware the mural was changed and waited to see how it unfolded.

“Two days before it’s completion and the Cup Match holiday and five days before I left the island to relocate to London, after the coordinator made arrangements to do a ‘final b-roll for the press’ she emails me to say I must cease/desist all work on the mural and go back to the original layout. This email was sent at the direction of her manager and not of her own volition as the very day before, she praised its beauty and progress.

“This is entirely a result of a fallout of communication between staff members within the Corporation offices.

“I accept no responsibility for this breakdown in communication.

“I reiterate, what criteria is in place for public murals? And why was that not presented to me and every other artist at the outset of these projects??! Why is this criteria unavailable to the public??

“Also, please explain what this criteria is and how three portraits of Gombey captains, the same Gombey captains that the Corporation enlist and secure for public events, falls short for public art?!

“Sixth: ‘There was no consultation with the City on the change’ is an outright and blatant lie!!!!!! See above.

“Seven: My decision not to revert back to the original design was based not only in my social and artistic integrity, but also based on the fact that the original design was incompatible with the space provided, something I did not know until it was placed on the wall, and this decision was not at the exclusion of presenting several other potential alternatives. See above.

“Eight: I, and the public, deserve to know what this mysterious and magically made up policy is that now ‘sets a precedent going forward.’ Is the precedent that black men cannot be represented in a public space?? Is the precedent that unless a Gombey is firmly behind his mask he is not worthy of wall space?!? Is the precedent that an artist will be stripped of their freedom of speech if it doesn’t coincide with an unspoken agenda of the powers that be??? Is the precedent that the Corporation will arbitrarily remove artwork that doesn’t suit its personal taste??

“Nine: Having been ignored and bullied into a powerless position, all reasonable alternatives denied, and rather than remove the work which I gave every ounce of my body and spirit to, I cancelled the project, which under the terms of my contract states that I must pay back the monies given to date.

“The only reason I made this decision is because I was offered no recourse other than to remove the existing artwork. This decision came at incredible personal and financial cost and would never have been made if I was offered any recourse.

Ten: if it is not ‘the City’s policy to practice favoritism’ then you should never have hired an H&H artist.

“Eleven: I was not ‘offered the opportunity to paint the captains of each active Gombey troupe in Bermuda’ and declined it. I made the suggestion to paint every troupe captain. And I did so on the fly in my meeting with management as a potential solution, and I stated in person and in writing that it would only be a viable solution if my H&H captains approved it. They did not. I do not and will not represent H&H or any other troupe without their express permission.

“Twelve: I have not ‘resorted to a campaign on Facebook to smear the city directly,’ I publicly stated the facts as they transpired  as the public deserve to know why their art was removed. Public art belongs to and should represent the public!! The City are facilitators, not dictators, for this art.

“I am appalled at the blatant lack of respect the City has shown for local art and artists, which includes Gombeys for they are both art and artists.

“The City has shown an utter disregard for us and it will not go unnoticed and unquestioned.”

City Responds

A spokesperson said, “In June of this year Ms. April Branco was approached to submit proposed artwork as part of the City Art Festival’s public art installation initiative. After consultation with Ms. Branco on what the City’s vision was, she provided a selection of artwork for the team to review.

“From that selection she was provided guidelines for what the City was looking for, and she then submitted a sketch that was not approved as it did not meet our vision. The team explained the City’s position and Ms. Branco subsequently presented another sketch that was approved by the City. The written description, verbal conversations, nor the sketch made any mention of any specific troupe alliance.

“She was contracted to paint a mural depicting Gombeys dancing, an unmasked child and adult and child drummers in full costume. Ms. Branco then realized that the space allotted was a few inches shorter than what was quoted in an email and it would not accommodate her original vision.

“She mentioned this to the Art Festival coordinator when she came in to sign the contract on July 2nd, and she was told to use her ‘artistic judgement’ to make the scale of the mural work in the given space or take additional space as needed.

“She commented to the project coordinator that she would amend the design ‘by building on elements in the original layout’ to include more faces and feathers. The approved sketch was drawn on the wall at Church Street which was posted on the City’s Instagram on July 17th.

citylife-bda-IG-Bermuda-fafsdfsfwcr

“Ms. Branco then proceeded with painting over the approved sketch and with something entirely different from the artwork that was approved – a mural of portraits to depict senior members of the H&H Gombey troupe. No children, no dancers, no drummers. Simply stated, the completely new artwork was not conveyed to the City for consideration until after it was painted and this product was not approved.

“In a meeting with the Mayor on July 31st, Ms. Branco told her story. The Mayor then met with City Art Festival officials and heard their story. The Mayor expressed to Ms. Branco in a follow up email later that day that she needed to have a meeting with members of the Events team as they ‘have some valid concerns regarding the portraits, if they portray any individuals etc.’

“Upon meeting with the coordinating team Ms. Branco verbally expressed that she completely understood why the current artwork was not approved and apologized for not adhering to her contract. She stated that she felt the need to make a strong statement based on other situations that were occurring and no longer felt that her original submission spoke to her convictions as an artist.

“In this meeting the team agreed to move forward together to find a compromising solution. Several options were discussed and agreed to and subsequently Ms. Branco provided an electronic image of the new mural to the City only on August 7th.

“Hoping for compromise, the Mayor took the matter to the Board on August 8th which then offered up two possible resolutions – to paint Gombey captains from all local troupes [Ms. Branco’s suggestion], to revert back to the original approved artwork, or last and least favoured, to repaint the wall. Failing a resolution, the artwork would be painted over.

“It must be noted that Ms. Branco gave notice to the City that she would be relocating to London and needed the second installment of the payment in order to fly back to Bermuda to continue painting the mural. She was advised in an email on August 9th that no further payments would be made to her until the City received written confirmation from her stating which option she would choose.

“On August 22nd in an email to the City, Ms. Branco thanked the City for the opportunity and stated that if the City would not approve the amended mural design, ‘this email stands as written notice of termination in accord with section 8 of the signed contract.’

“In that same email, Ms. Branco claimed that the mural was ¾ complete. Not only was Ms. Branco’s amended mural never approved by the City, she terminated the contract before the painting was completed and the mural was painted over.

“The August 22nd email also sees her making mention of reimbursement of the “$1900 deposit” to the City and the terms under which she would pay it. The City never approached Ms. Branco about repaying the deposit until it was mentioned by her.

“The City of Hamilton, through the City Art Festival, has installed 15 pieces of public art throughout the City without incident, and looks forward to continuing to work with artists on the beautification initiative.”

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Comments (94)

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  1. Toodle-oo says:

    What is there to discuss ?
    She was contracted to do one thing but then went and did her own thing which the COH refused. They offered her an alternative which she refused and now she wants to blame racism ..
    And furthermore the subject material was black culture so how does racism get in the picture ?
    Oh , that’s right , it’s our go to excuse for everything in Bermuda now.

    • Mb says:

      Black culture?? It was ART. Stop taking everything so seriously Bermuda. Every artist interprets a commission

      • Hey says:

        Read the whole article. Then apologize.

      • Onion says:

        She didn’t paint what she agreed to paint. Then she declined to paint what the City had commissioned her to paint.

        Then she had a tantrum and blamed race.

    • If the subject matter was Black Culture, then she should’ve painted Historical figures who made a major contribution to the advancement of Bermuda’s Black Culture through History (not the passive ones).
      If this proposal would have been given in America, the figures would’ve been Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, etc.
      Or in England, Canada or throughout the Carribean there would’ve been figures who made major contributions through Historical achievments in their jurisdictions.
      But I guess if she would’ve painted those who were contemporary at that time they would’ve been whited out too ( no pun intended) as they were and still are demonized by the existing orligarchy remnant.
      It was safer for her to put mask on their faces and a hat of peacock feathers, as we are comfortable with hidding our past.

      • Question says:

        So if it was up to you she would have painted something different. Like if you had been paying her to paint something, like the COH did.
        See how it works? If you pay an artist to paint something specific, that is what they have to paint.

    • Kathy says:

      It was even more beautiful than what was originally submitted. They could have at least discussed it with the artist before whitewashing it. Wasn’t the mural better than a white wall? Obviously the COH thinks not. I am sorry for all the work that went into it for nothing. Very regretful!

      • Hey says:

        It was meaningless to everyone, except those in the know. The original concept sketch was much better and more meaningful.

      • shrew says:

        the COH DID DISCUSS it with the artist. did you read the article?

        • Toodle-oo says:

          It’s become very obvious that a lot of people are either just running off at the mouth making up their own truths or they did read the article and completely overlooked the COH’s side of the story.
          Some ( a lot) of the comments are just mind blowing in their ignorance.

    • Really says:

      The Corporation is out of control. That’s what they are although they prefer to drop that word. Their whole mentality is that exactly way. The final product was much better than the draft. We need to write them. No titty milk in the drawing or sexual or controversial issues. The artist is so talented she is painted over and this same corporation needs art education and would ban the Mona Lisa. I tell you. Sad. Sad. And they have public meetings pretending to be our friends when they have a machete behind their back. Awful.

      • Jimny cricket says:

        If you read the article you’d understand. If you ever read a contract it would make sense that if you break it the owner of the property can do as they wish.

        When a tender is released for a corporation public art piece there is a tender pack available from city hall. Having collected one previously, there is a long document in it pertaining to what you can and cannot do. A full paragraph is dedicated to staying true to the sketch submitted on which the contract is awarded. If you don’t they are within their rights to remove it as you are in breach of contract.

        It doesn’t matter that the artist clearly has exceptional talent. It comes down to a failing to deliver the original design intent. Which is unfortunate as clearly it would have been a beautiful piece. Race doesn’t come into art, especially when it is a uniquely cultural piece as designed.

        I think it’s time Some Bermudians moved away from blaming everything on race and tried to see its culture as something to be celebrated not racialised.

    • Time Shall Tell says:

      Toodle, you obviously didn’t read the full article, in particular, the response from Ms. Branco that dispelled the narrative that you’re trying to convey.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Ad the COH’s side dispels the narrative that you’re trying to convey.
        And do you , or anyone , really believe that it makes any sense that she was to be paid for contracted work by the COH but took her orders from a gombey troop?

        • Time Shall Tell says:

          She never said she took her orders from the Gombey troop, go back & read the full story, you’re missing parts of the story.

  2. Jt says:

    A layout was approved and significant changes were made without consulting the city and the artist received funding from the city. I’m having a difficult time feeling sorry for her. If, as she claims, no parameters are in written form it really doesn’t matter since a specific piece was, essentially, purchased and not provided. I also have a hard time seeing how the city is showing a lack of respect for local artists.

    • wahoo says:

      Yup if you order chicken parmigiana and get nuggets you are entitled to send it back.

    • Onion says:

      Especially since the City gave her the chance to paint what she agreed to paint.

      • Time Shall Tell says:

        They also gave her the option to proceed as she wished once she contacted them that the original painting wasn’t going to work on the given canvas. So it’s the COH that are in the wrong on this.

    • Time Shall Tell says:

      Go back and read the article again, Ms. Branco did consult with a representative of the city on the changes.

  3. Fallout Boy says:

    When I read the outline, I too was outraged. As I read the artists comments I remained so. Then I continued to read a saw the

  4. Mark says:

    Wow. Generation snowflake has reached our shores!

  5. Eye 4 and Eye says:

    I read the article and I’m sorry but she was asked to submit artwork. She did. It was approved. I understand that she even sketched it out but then changed it.

    What is most disturbing is that she chose to throw out the race card to deflect from the fact that she is responsible for this. It’s not even close to what was commissioned.

    • Really says:

      A draft is a draft and when an artist is inspired and nothing sexual is there or offensive we should celebrate her.But we are British and so we have these stupid restrictive rules and some support them until it happens to them or their child. So very restrictive for what. But thanks for making her a celebrity. This has to go viral to all overseas newspapers with the photos of the Corporation members. BAD BOYS OUT OF CONTROL.

      • shrew says:

        what a load of nonsense. if you paid her to paint your child and she painted your neighbour’s child instead because she thought it was ‘more inspired’ wouldn’t you want your money back or give her the opportunity to actually paint what you paid her for?

      • Truth be told says:

        What don’t you understand? She applied for a job. She was given the job and was pre-paid. She didn’t do the job.

        Don’t accept the job if you don’t plan to provide the service you are hired for.

        • sage says:

          So the police heirarchy should be fired since they failed to enact sobriety checks they promised and were paid to institute by law?

      • My My My says:

        The artist was out of control, and irresponsible. This is BAD and she needs to be BANNED.

        • Time Shall Tell says:

          Obviously, you guys didn’t read the article, Ms. Branco was given full artistic license to do as she wanted then the COH backtracked on it. Go back & read the full story & you’ll see that was one of Ms. Branco’s opening arguments.

  6. Real Deal says:

    nice talent

  7. Ok says:

    It’s really is one of the best piece I have seen…but if it supposed to represent gombeys I think it missed a beat. To tourists this look like it could be the local music artist or rappers….certainly doesn’t say gombeys to an outside observer….

  8. eyes wide open says:

    It seems to me that you did not conform to the agreed mural and changed it to suit yourself.
    Using the race card is not going to endear people to you either.
    Bermuda is an Island of many races,you’d do well to learn that.

    • Black Panther says:

      Eyes white open,
      Only a white supremacist would write what you have above.
      And only white supremacists wield the term race card as some type of sword.

  9. Yahweh says:

    I don’t think this is an issue of race.

    To suggest the COH has an issue with black men is utterly ridiculous.

    • We know, racism dont exist in Bermuda.
      We get it.

      • Justin says:

        Meanwhile 11 Bermudians got made redundant at Markel this week and a further 2 Bermudians at Belco. Racists!! Yes, this is what we should spend our energy on. Carry on…

      • Question says:

        Oh, it exists. You are a prime example.

      • Jt says:

        The corporation commissioned (paid for) a painting of Gombeys. The only issue here is that the artist strayed quite far from the proposal she provided. Explain how race has anything to do with this. Get real.

      • I agree, we are an island of many races, but we have to use a microscope to identify racism as it is very subtle in our society.
        Sort of like our taxes, its included in our prices.

        • wahoo says:

          That is hellarious! You need a microscope to see racism? F@#ck dude all you need to do is look in the mirror. You, of all commenters are the biggest racist around the problem is you are too stupid to realize it.

      • Yahweh says:

        Only in the head of people like you.

        The rest of us just getting in with life, not hating.

      • Paul says:

        If only that was true..

  10. Question says:

    Last time I buy one of her pieces.

  11. Mb says:

    Unreal….The CoH should be massively ashamed. This is an incredibly accomished local artist. This was ART, you asked for ART she gave you ART. Can we just get rid of CoH altogether please?

    • Hey says:

      Sad that someone was paid to do work that other artists lost out on. This paid work based on a sketch for the colorful painting. She ignored it and did her own meaningless picture to most of Bermuda.

      She took an opportunity of paid work out of other artists pockets. She should be ashamed.

      • Truth be told says:

        Agree. Who does she think she is? Other artists would have been honoured and happy to be chosen (and paid) to have their art showcased.

        Lay off the race card. It’s been done and over done.

  12. Sailor says:

    I do not like the city and think they are dictators and need to brought back down to earth. They have so much red tape and favouritism runs throughout.
    Saying this, this artist seems very full of herself too..

    I think the city and this woman are both very similar and equally to blame

    • Really says:

      Sailor I agree. Dictators. Need we say more. We rarely see these CORPORATION HYPOCRITES among us unless it is an official event and to think I recently praised them. This is shameful and we should all stand up for this. But then again we are British and will follow the rules and the ones making the decision have no appreciation for art just their big fat salaries. Guess we will have another dumb back to school haircut event like that was new. Just copying and wasting money because they have NO IDEAS. What a disgrace!

  13. JohnBoy says:

    First: I’m sorry Ms Branco but if I asked you to do a painting at my house after you showed me an initial proposal then that is what I expect to see. Simple as that!

    Second: I suppose everyone is just supposed to know she’s affiliated with H&H???

    Third: Can you imagine the possible fallout if the other troupes ask why H&H is there in such a visible location and we are on Tills Hill?

    Fourth: It’s not a race thing. Pahleeeease

    Fifth: I’m tired…going to bed

  14. jus sayin says:

    The artwork is incredible, that is something that can’t be denied. But that is where my support for her argument ends. She was given a chance to revise the original layout to include the leaders of each of the islands troupes, but her captains at H&H troupe would not approve the changes.
    That for me is the end of the argument. She should ask her captains to reimburse any monies owed.
    There was no racism.
    There was no favoritism.
    There was no disrespect for art, artists, or Gombeys.
    There was only an illogical and maligned attempt at smearing the CoH to cover for her bad decision making.
    She should take some time to reflect on how she makes choices going forward, and in the meantime take some English grammar classes.
    Jus sayin, (if she wants to put somebody on blast on social media), jus sayin

  15. Jt says:

    So in your opinion the corporation is racist not because they failed to try and publicly portray an element of black culture but because they didn’t select a subject matter you felt was suitable. Got it.

  16. Retro says:

    Not too sure where the controversy is here. On one hand the mural seems like a nice piece on the other hand if it isn’t the mural that both parties agreed upon then it seems a little bit entitled to complain about it after the fact. There must be more to this. Are the men portrayed on the mural divisive figures ? Somebody must know.

  17. Bermuda is so old fashion and stuck in their old ways. bermuda needs to keep up with the new world and think outside the ordinary.

    • Paul says:

      Bermuda is so behind in the real world,all the talk is what happend way back when…it would be so nice to move on, lets get the casinos going , forget about gay marriage… lets welcome everyone to our shores.

  18. Bermie says:

    Before people jump on the bandwagon to criticize the artist, they should re-examine the facts. Any contract can be varied by mutual agreement. COH didn’t provide the space initially anticipated for the mural and then told the artist that she had full discretion as to the nature of the changes to the mural. To paint over and destroy such beautiful artwork and to then bully the artist is unforgivable. If they had an issue with the change in direction, after having authorised it, they should have said something straight away. Utterly cruel.

    • Kathy says:

      Absolutely unforgivable and a slap in the face of the artist. Disgusted with this decision!

    • Happy says:

      While I was originally with the artist on this, both sides of the story have me siding with COH. The mural is nothing like the original submission. The mural came out of the City festival and was approved based on her submission to the Festival. Regardless of whatever happened next the artist goes on to say that after it was raised as an issue she proposed the idea of the other gombey troupe captains. The H&H captains didn’t approve of it. Let that sink in for a minute. The artist painted a particular gombey troupe and when asked to make it more inclusive the gombey troupe didn’t approve of it. The mural became a tribute to H&H plain an simple. Not what the COH asked for and it is their property.

      • shrew says:

        AGREE. She was under contract and was paid for that contract. She did not fufill the contract specifications. end of story.

        • Time Shall Tell says:

          The “contract” called for colorful faces, she gave them what they asked for. A concept js just a concept and as the artist stated, the concept (one of a number submitted & approved) turned out not to be suited for the “canvas” ended up being provided to the artist. Ms. Branco bought up the changes to representatives of the COH who approved of the changes. The fault falls in house of the COH in the form of failure on internal communication.

  19. NO MORE WAR says:

    Nice art work but I support the CoH decision.

    • Time Shall Tell says:

      Why? CoH backtracked on their decision when she met with them about changing the painting.

  20. Kathy says:

    Absolutely unforgivable and a slap in the face of the artist. Disgusted with this decision!

    • eyes wide open says:

      maybe she needed this to bring her to her senses,hopefully she learned a lesson.
      Far too often we allow people to get away with nonsense that in other countries would not be allowed.

  21. Time Shall Tell says:

    I have always admired and respected April Branco both as an artist and as a person. She is a genuine person full of integrity & respect, blessed with multi talents.

  22. Jt says:

    What isn’t subtle is the use of racism as an excuse for every decision some people don’t agree with.

  23. Time Shall Tell says:

    “No enquiry was made regarding my source material or the people featured, and no guidelines were given for the execution of this piece. When I discovered that the wall space allocated was smaller than initially discussed, I immediately approached the project coordinator and informed her asking how I should proceed. Her response in its entirety was ‘do what you feel is best, this is your project, use your artistic judgment’ which set the tone for me for all the proceedings going forward.”

    So, how is this Ms. Branco’s fault considering she was given FULL artistic control over the piece but then CoH decides to backtrack after the fact?

    • Blankerchief says:

      “This transpired during the Fashion festival”

      You missed this part…

      • Time Shall Tell says:

        As Ms.Branco stated ” I immediately approached the project coordinator”, so what difference does it make that it was during the Fashion Festival? The interaction still took place where she was given permission in the form of “do what you feel is best, this is your project, use your artistic judgment”.

        • Blankerchief says:

          You can’t figure that out for yourself?

          • Time Shall Tell says:

            If the project coordinator talked out of place due to being at the Fashion festival at the given time then she should have responded accordingly. She didn’t What she did do was give the artist the option to do as she feels fit & that’s what she did. Again not the artists’ fault but the fault within the CoH.

  24. Infidelguy says:

    I see nothing wrong with the mural. It was very nice as much as I can tell. What exactly do they mean that it “strayed from criteria”? What was the criteria? I guess if they were 3 white men it would have met the criteria.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Sometimes it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool rather than ….

  25. Email Bill says:

    She is an artist. A creative person. Even if given parameters, true artists will follow their inspiration and be true to their art over any commission. The destruction of original art shows the weakness in the Corporation’s ranks. I read the comments above about contracts, or background and I agree with her. She has touched a nerve. As an artist that in itself is a good thing. Not only has her creation been whitewashed but look at the volume of comments repeating the same position telling her about the race card, or telling her what she should paint. If her Art bothers you that much, that the image and her story should in your view be removed, then you are part of the reason her expression should be unfettered. To the CoH – you are a dying institution. Today you answer to the few. Your heavy handed approach in this hastens the day when you will be voted in by the many. Let Art Live.

    • Rhonnda Oliver says:

      If an artist wishes to be ‘true to their art’ then they shouldn’t be taking commissions that places limitations on them. I do appreciate that she may well have done so because she needed the money, but there are plenty of people in this world who are doing things against their personal integrity because they need to pay the bills. It sucks, but it’s life.
      Art is a skill, a passion, and a talent, but it is also a business, and falls under the same scope as any other.

    • Drama says:

      This is a non story and frankly BS! Typical whining from people who have nothing else to whine about! Race card whining yet again!

  26. Real Deal says:

    I would love to see a timeless of the creation. how long does something like this take?

    • Time Shall Tell says:

      Good point, the project coordinator should have been overseeing the progress of the project and made any objections known BEFORE the artworks completion.

  27. Joe Bloggs says:

    I guess there is no room for freedom of expression in the City of Hamilton!

  28. Rhonnda Oliver says:

    Ms Branco is a talented artist.
    The mural she painted was wonderful.

    However…

    When an artist chooses to do a commission, and signs a contract to that effect, they are giving up artistic freedom in order to meet the wishes of the person/people paying for the commission.

    She was being paid to do something in particular, she chose to do something quite different, in effect breaking the contract. It doesn’t matter how lovely her mural was, it was not what was expected or wanted, and as such the City has every right to remove it.

    The reality is, even if Ms Branco had painted exactly what they commissioned to have painted, it would still be within the City’s right to paint over it. They own the piece of property it was painted on, they owned the artwork. It was theirs to do with as they so wish.

    I’m afraid that Ms Branco has no grounds to complain, nor has anyone else, unless they feel comfortable with having random people tell them how to paint their homes.

    • Time Shall Tell says:

      I think you missed the part where the project coordinator point blank told the artist to do as she pleased since it’s her art. Go back & read the article.

      • Rhonnda Oliver says:

        Nothing Ms Branco said suggests she was told to ‘do as she pleased since it. was her art’. She said she was told to use her ‘artistic judgment’ which common sense would suggest meant to use her artistic skill to make the agreed upon images, or a variation thereof, work in the available space, not paint something completely different.

        Seriously, a good portion of time was spent choosing an artist, and finalising on a design, why on earth would they then throw their hands up and say ‘oh, just do what you want to do’?

        • Time Shall Tell says:

          Because that’s exactly what the project coordinator did when she told Ms. Branco “Do what you feel is best, this is your project, use your artistic judgment”.

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