Outside the lines

Holmes:  This is “That’s So Delco,” the show that focuses on the big and little stories that define Delaware County and I’m your host, Stevie Holmes. With us this morning via Zoom is controversial, artist Felonious Monk. Thank you for joining us.

Monk: [nods solemnly]

Holmes: And for our viewers I wanted to explain we agreed to allow Felonious Monk to keep his/her identity secret. That’s why you’re in silhouette. But why the all black monk’s hood? Are you making a statement on faith? Are you commenting on religion’s role in dictating culture?

Monk: No.

Silence.

Holmes: Could you elaborate?

Monk: No and no.

Longer silence.

Holmes: [chuckles] Answers like that are what drove me out of teaching. You’re gonna make me work for this, aren’t you. What do I call you Felon? Monksy?

Monk: I don’t make statements I make art. And comments are the realm of art critics. Call me what you like. I’ll answer if I chose.

Holmes: I see. I get it you’re saying you want the focus on your work not your personality but the whole anonymous cloaked figure persona draws more attention to you. Isn’t anonymity putting the focus back on yourself?

Monk: I can’t help if people are drawn to mysteries. I’m not a puzzle looking to be solved. I’m just not tryin’ to get arrested.

Holmes: Fair enough Speaking of crimes let’s talk about your “art.” What some people call graffiti. Your logo the “All Seeing I” has popped up on buildings all over DelCo for years. Most recently on the sides of several supermarkets across the Main Line. What are you trying to say?

Monk: I don’t say things. I make art. Maybe more people should be saying something about what communities have markets, maybe more people should worry about access to healthy food versus a little spray paint.

Holmes: Your public sculptures are shocking, Overnight these massive installations appear, giant Hersey kisses sculptures on Kinsey elementary school lawn in Garden City, a chain of pink Dumpsters at the memorial park in Clifton Heights, the giant inflated obscene hand gesture at the Garnet Valley new housing/shopping development. It costs to remove your works. Some may ask why do you have the right to damage private or public property.

Monk: Some may ask about school funding. Some may ask about political cronyism and kickbacks and misuse of public funds. Some may ask where will poor working people live when you need to spend half your check on housing. Maybe some people may ask and investigate. I wouldn’t know I make art.

Holmes: Do you consider yourself an artist or an activist? Why not work in a gallery?

Monk: You can call me what you like. I choose how I answer.

Holmes: So wait you don’t consider yourself an artist.

Monk: Let me tell you a story. When I was little I could read but not well not quickly. Kids made fun of me. Teachers made fun of me. I would fall behind. I needed help.  So I would daydream and draw in my textbooks. One day I left my history book in my desk and when I opened it the next day the teacher, a new teacher she was young and pretty,  had written over one of my drawings: “Study harder. You’re no artist.” I continued to draw and I got into art school and I graduated and I got a nice respectable job but under my nice respectable shell I burn. My art is my fire. So no I’m no artist Miss Holmes I just make art.

Holmes: [Silence.]

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