Dear Alex Walsh,
I just read the article “Zebra Path: Victory or Bolshevism?” (which was posted on July 8, 2008) that you wrote about the public art walkway that I originally painted in 1981. I just became aware of recent articles regarding the decision by the SBU Student Government to repaint the “Red-Hot Zebra Path” back to its original colors. I like your comments about the red color that was painted over my original design. I understand that the title “Zebra Path” is politically incorrect for the “interest of the zoological society.” The reporters adopted that name after they saw my art work and it sort of stuck after that. I wrote a correction to the comments for the AAEZINE organization to explain that the Zebra Path was originally intended to reflect my artistic vision of the simple black and white yin and yang theory; but everyone called it the Zebra Path because that was what they saw. Please contact Ja Young at AAEZINE to read the editorial comments by me. It should be published on March 7th. If you are on Facebook, I posted some original black and white photos on the SB group site. I also visited the campus last summer to see the red candy-cane lane for myself. I wanted to secretly repaint it during the July 4th weekend to surprise everyone when they returned to school, but I didn’t have time. I had to return to ERAU, an aeronautical university in Daytona Beach, Florida where I currently teach English courses to international students. I added a funny story about the controversy in my reading and writing class. We were reading a story about the effects of public art in the United States. I showed both photos of the red and white versus the black and white walkway to my students. They wrote their opinions and critical analysis about the colors not knowing that I was the artist. They had the same opinions as most of the students on campus.
I hope they repaint the walkway back to my original colors with clear, sharp lines. I don’t mind if the Alumni office or the SBU Student Government changes the title of the plaque to give the walkway a politically correct name. In fact, it would be interesting if they give this idea to all the students on campus as a vote for a new name for the walkway. I can’t think of a better way to engage everyone in this process. It keeps public art alive on campus. I would like to see this as part of the repainting process. I would also love to return to SB when it is repainted and/or renamed with my permission. I can get a direct flight on Southwest Airlines from Orlando to Long Island from Friday to Sunday. What do you think about that idea? If you have any comments for me, you can reach me at email@example.com or my office phone number 386-226-6174.
Kim Hardiman, English Professor
ERAU – ERLI
Thanks for responding to my article. I actually graduated right before that was published and kind of forgot about the whole issue. It’s kind of funny to see that they’ve kept it red this whole time, after saying it was just a temporary thing.
I’m sure the school would be glad to have you on hand for whatever they decide to do with it. But to be frank, I think what’s called for now is vigilante justice. Revolutionary style. If it’s taken this long for the student government to recommend that it be restored, who knows how long it could take for the administration to get around to it? And they’re just going to send a crew of people whose goal is to get it done fast, not to lay down the crisp lines you originally envisioned.
No, the only thing to do is go back to your July 4th plan and pull a switcheroo while they’re not looking for several hours. I thought about it myself while I was there (albeit with duct tape, not paint) but never pulled it off. The people are behind you. All power to the public artists!
Very truly yours,