Duckling on the wall

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The mural applied to the side of the old Daily Bread Flour Mill quickly became a point of pride in downtown Greensboro after it went up in April.

It was just eyes and ears, a mouth and a nose, but the people looked upon it as a harbinger of things to come in the downtown district, where large corporate interests had already carved up the choicest parcels and there seemed to be little concern for allowing the grassroots to flourish.

This piece, created by LA muralist Art of the Chase and organized by new-urbanist Ryan Saunders, seemed a perfect countermand to the notion.

Maybe that’s why everyone got so upset when, over the course of a few hours in early August, the mural disappeared, literally whitewashed while the building’s owner, Eric Robert, was out of town.

Derision bubbled forth freely from the social-media spring before Robert had even pulled into his parking lot to see what had been wrought. The general consensus among those who cared was that this was just another victory of corporate interests over the creative community, and it tapped into a fear that it would ever be thus in the city of Greensboro.

Last week, the final insult came in the form of a sharp Duck Head logo painted on a field of yellow, the shade of which some have likened to the complexion of Spongebob Squarepants.

And while it’s easy enough to channel populist rage against the corporate machine — especially if you’re actually listening to Rage Against the Machine — it’s probably a mistake to cast this episode in such stark tones.

For one, if the first mural had never been applied and the Duck Head logo sprung up on that wall overnight, people would have loved it, and it would have been a shoo-in for coverage on the front page of the daily newspaper and the television news.

For another, this is not exactly the destruction of the Library of Alexandria we’re talking about here. It’s not even the same as when the mural by Charleston artist Patch Whiskey was painted over at Common Grounds coffeeshop last year.

It’s more like when Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets and named after the man who brought the team to town, was rebuilt and named Citi Field, after the bank.

So don’t be so hard on Duck Head or its owner, Prospect Brands, which after all is just exercising its right to advertise on its relatively new corporate headquarters — a common enough occurrence. And even though the message is a corporate one, there is still one less blank wall in downtown Greensboro, and dozens more ready to be covered.