The toadstool painting project was an attempt to beautify downtown and bring joy to people during a difficult election season and the anxiety caused by terrorist attacks around the world. I didn’t ask permission because it was such a fine idea, I didn’t want to risk getting it shot down by City Hall before the public had a chance to see it. I live in the entertainment district with a lot of low income people, and our front “yard” is a parking lot…I felt that a few colorful toadstools would enhance everyone’s view…Many of my neighbors don’t have cars and/or have disabilities that prevent them from getting out of the urban center. So many people–taxi drivers, students, baristas, seniors–stopped to thank me for the toadstools that I felt I was doing a community service…
I worked in plain sight between the hours of 7 am and 6 pm with police cars regularly cruising past me. Unfortunately, as I was painting my 9th toadstool in front of Bank of America on Cornwall, my luck turned and someone called the police. It only takes one complaint to destroy a gift that brought happiness to so many people. I have many regrets about the permitting process–I made many mistakes especially since it was my first attempt and I was working backwards, asking forgiveness for what I’d already done. I offered to undo my work, since I felt it was my responsibility and didn’t want tax dollars to be wasted, but my offer was declined by the arts commissioner.
The life span of a mushroom is 7-10 days in the wild…The toadstool bollards lasted close to 2 months total…and now the spores of this idea have been released, and I look forward to seeing lots more bollard art, with permission, that is.
More of the story in the Bellingham Herald