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Mama Ayesha’s Presidential Mural Vandalized … Or Improved?

Mama Ayesha’s is a popular restaurant in Washington, D.C. Until recently, the side of the restaurant featured a mural, paid for partially by an NEA grant, that depicted the restaurant’s founder, dressed in her traditional Palestinian garb, embracing the nation’s presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama. Only recently, there’s been a new addition to the mural: someone shot the crotches of all the presidents with red paint. The parties responsible signed their names, “The War Thugs.”

Over on CommonDreams, Sam Husseini praises the alteration to the mural:

The original mural is not destroyed, it’s not painted over, but used to make a perhaps unexpected point. Further, the original mural it seems was not so much done to convey a vision of the artist as much as commissioned by the DC Arts Commission and various other governmental bureaucratic entities. The mural that used to adorn that wall was of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where Mama Ayesha was born. But it was replaced and the collective wisdom had it that the environs of Washington, D.C. were lacking in sufficiently honoring our war presidents, pretending all is smilingly well as they are brutal.

The new mural now features Mama Ayesha in her beautiful Palestinian dress bring the war-makers together, their vulnerability, what they likely had thought of as a source of their dominating power, made evident. And they’re smiling, accepting, perhaps gaining in empathy.

On Shooting the ‘War Thug’ Presidents in the (Paint) Balls

But Mark Vallen, who tipped us off to this story, has a very different take in his essay “In Defense of Art & Artists“:

I will be direct, Sam Husseini is a philistine, a classic example of an individual who knows absolutely nothing about art. The fact that he writes about pop culture and media, and his rubbish is published, points not only to the intellectual squalor of our times, but to the bankruptcy of America’s so-called “left.”

In the malicious opening sentence of his article, Husseini informs the reader that Karlísima’s mural had been “transformed” or “made more whole, reborn” by its defacement! He completely dismisses the artist, barely mentioning her, saying only that “the mural was originally labored over by Karlisima Rodas.”

… Instead of criticizing Karlísima’s artwork, perhaps Mr. Husseini should offer some critical analysis of America’s progressive movement. The U.S. antiwar movement totally collapsed with the ascendancy of Mr. Hope and Change, the “antiwar” president; the left simply folded itself into the Obama campaign and the democratic party, willingly and mostly uncritically. It has not since recovered, and I have serious doubts that it will. The left’s ineptitude and total incompetence has prevented it from impacting the American political scene, and now out of sheer frustration, lefties are attacking an artist for painting the portraits of eleven U.S. presidents.

” In Defense of Art & Artists

What do you think of this controversy? I support the people who deface Confederate War memorials in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement, but I find I’m a lot less sure about this action …

Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and