Visual Art Jun 10, 2010 at 4:00 am

Amazon, Please Do Right By These Artists


I'll say it in language that Jen can't/won't: That is seriously fucked up, Amazon. You make an awful corporate neighbor, and I remember this every time I use eBay or bike to the grocery store instead of use "Amazon Fresh" or whatever it's called. I know they're there. I resist patronizing them. Just like I avoid the crazy lady who lives next door. Bad Neighbors the same.
Honestly Amazon-
How much dough do you make in a day, a minute, a second?! Do you really want to establish yourself as another ugly corporation that doesn't pay its dues to the people that built you? Take a minute, like Ms Graves suggested, and reconsider your decision to jack fantastic STREET ART created for the public and not even the throw the creators a bone. Otherwise, just think of the guilt that will engulf your soul each day you walk by the art you knew was dope enough to cut down and keep in your building, but you forgot to pay the artists for.
I completely agree. These artists are important to the Seattle art community (notice I don't just say Street Art). Celebrate your roots for fuck's sake. This is particularly shameful because I know the heart and soul, the purpose of this sort of work and it's not meant to be privately held. If you want art in your building, go out and buy it like any other decent company. You wouldn't get a Chihuly for free. It's not as if the company can't afford it. You'll be getting a letter from me.
Okay, I'll pose these questions: Isn't graffiti inherently a temporary, anonymous and illegal form of art? Weren't these artists expecting these paintings to be torn down, painted over or destroyed, eventually? When it comes down to it, you can't write your name on the side of a building and expect to own that section of the building, can you?
I taught art at a High School for a short time in the late 90's and encouraged my students who were talented graffiti artists to look at their work as temporal. If you paint on the side of a building, train car or whatever, don't expect to see it the next day, and don't be surprised if you get busted.
@4 I don't think the artist involved had any illusions regarding the permanence of the work on the wall.The issue is that Amazon has chosen to take art that was placed in a public setting without the consent of the artists who created it and not compensate in any way whatsoever. You see corporations have art collections that are considered assets of the company. They contacted somebody to provide a provenance -thats artspeak for giving a history of the artwork that then provides a value to it- but refused to compensate the artists when offered the opportunity. If they saw the work on the old Con Works building they could have tried to discover who the artists were at that point and commission new works from them. They decided that they would rather leave the works uncredited than provide any sort of proper compensation to the artists. No matter how you feel about "street artists" thats just a trife way of handling this situation.
...As citizens of Seattle, we need to celebrate and compensate our street artists. They take alot of risks bringing ideas and beauty to the walls of our city. The traditions of Graffiti and Mural Art are thousands of years old. Seattle's street artists are continuing the legacy. We are very fortunate to have such talented 'messengers' amongst us. Thank you Jen for bringing this situation to the 'board room'. Hopefully, it will create an extended discussion...LONG LIVE THE HIVE!
thnx jenny nobidy really cares tho
Well, Jen, why don't you go ahead and publicize who these artists are? At least visitors of The Stranger website will know.
The logic of this article:

1. I dump a sofa on your front lawn.
2. You bring it inside.
3. Pay me for my sofa.
I don't know... as I see it, graffiti placed on a building slated for demolition…. the building owner has the right to do what they wish.... and for the record, Amazon doesn't own the buildings, they are the tenant. I agree with earlier comments about graffiti being temporary, and rather than see it trashed, it sounds to me that the building owner and tenant (Amazon) wanted to salvage parts of the neighborhood's past rather than just see everything go to the dump. I don't think what happened deserves a public flogging.
I live in South Lake Union. As an artist, this really irritates me more about Amazon. I was already pissed off about their outside facing restaurant, the Garage Cafe. This is branded as a restaurant with hours posted, doors facing the sidewalk, but whenever a member of the public attempts to go inside, they are met with a locked door, requiring amazon key pass. So it's not bad enough that I had to deal with the increased traffic, construction, and annoyance of your workers almost running me over when I come home around 5--- but the neighborhood of South Lake Union gets nothing. Culture can't run far enough from you, Amazon.
The logic of bgutz' comment:

1. Making public art = dumping old furniture.
2. Wealthy corporation = individual neighbor.
3. Paying for art = paying for garbage.

Got it. Disagree x 3.
There are many good points on both sides of this argument. I feel that the temporary nature of this type of art means that these artists don't expect to be compensated for the work they place on buildings.

But since Amazon has decided to place this artwork in prominent places in its' offices they need to, at the very least, provide names and contact information for these artists should any of the people passing buy want to get in contact with them to buy other pieces of their work.
But isn't that the beauty and the point of street art? It's fleeting, brash and inherently temporary. Street art reflects its culture-one that doesn't look to the establishment for credibility.
But isn't that the beauty and the point of street art? It's fleeting, brash and inherently temporary. Street art reflects its culture-one that doesn't look to the establishment for credibility.
Amazon did not take anything, they used the material they had to build with and some would consider this "green". However, if Amazon knows who created this,values creativity, and respects people that make their work environment a better place they shoud find a way to give credit where credit is due....
Pay the frak'n artists Amazon!!! Just because you don't SEE THE VALUE doesn't mean the value isn't there. Pay up!
Response to SeattleM+M:

1. The object was abandoned, be it art or an old sofa.

2. "Wealthy corporation" is irrelevant. The ability of someone to pay for something doesn't compel them to do so.

3. No one can force you to buy something they abandoned on your property.

Amazon could have destroyed the work, but instead saved it. That said, I would like to see the artists given credit.
If the artists have a resume and list collections they belong in, they can list the Amazon Corporate Art collection. (unwillingly and unknowingly)
Temporal art outside perhaps. Street artists run the risk of their work being destroyed, but bringing it indoors, hanging it up, and taking publicity shots with it changes everything. The minute they brought in into the office it ceased to be street art and the artists should be credited and paid.
PS: Creating a mural to be viewed on an outdoor wooden structure is not abandoning it.
One part I disagree with is that Amazon got it "for free". It might be a fair comment that the artists should be compensated, but it's not like Amazon is squatting at their new address - they're paying for that space. So it's not exactly "free" to them. That somewhat entitles them to do what they will with the space.
@9, your argument is flawed.

1. You didn't make the sofa. You bought it. Therefore you're a consumer not an artist.

2. You put the sofa on someone's property but the artists didn't put their work on Amazon's property because Amazon didn't own the property at the time.

3. The artists put their work in an abandoned space as an intentional gift to the public not to Amazon. Amazon does not rightfully own the work until they compensate the artists.

Countries like France and Great Britain often use Amazon's tactic to unlawfully appropriate other country's cultural property. It's a douchey move no matter who does it.

You see a wall of a building slated for destruction. The building was illegally tagged, but the owner never bothered to paint over the tagging. Now the owner of the building grants you the ability to remove the wall and save it.

What do you owe the tagger?


Sorry, but there's no beef here. The tagger wasn't granted permission to paint in the first place.

You want to be paid for your work, maybe you should get your work in a gallery, or at least print up postcards and sell them at Pike Place Market.
Also, you're living in a fantasy if you think Amazon "cares" about random taggings.

Amazon exists to make money. Period. Not to be nice. Not to extend a hand. Not to be a "good corporate citizen."

I would not be surprised to see the tagging end up on the Amazon website someday.

And Amazon doesn't own the buildings and does not own the wall hangings. If you want to vent your ire, vent it to the owner and decorator of the buildings.

Of course, that's not as interesting as going after a renter.
As one of the artists who painted the wall of the Conworks Building and one of the pieces they kept and hung up, I don't feel the need to be compensated with money, I'm glad they like it enough to keep it and hang it up, I have them listed on my website as a corporate collection piece. Plus street art is free in my mind, as it should be in the artists minds too and to set the record straight it was a "planned" mural and most of the artists painted it during the day and talked with the neighbors and security guards. However, I it would be nice if Amazon, not sure if they have or not, would put the artists names and website next to the paintings that are hanging to give some sort of credit.
Artists should exercise their VARA rights (look it up) - from a purely legal standpoint Amazon is very likely in the wrong by taking ownership of the art without a written agreement with the artists.

Please wait...

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