For Heeb‘s Music Issue, I was issued the task of reporting on a lawsuit that Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s former manager, Jarred Weisfeld, had filed against the rapper’s biographer, Jaime Lowe.
Writing my piece, “Ol’ Dirty Lawsuit,” required a fair amount of running around/digging, but one of the highlights—by far—was checking out the famous Ol’ Dirty Bastard mural in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood.
In an effort to be as accurate as possible when describing the famous painting, I contacted the mural’s creator, Victor Goldfeld, a young New York artist and filmmaker. In an interview that didn’t make it into the final story, we discussed the painting’s inception, its 2007 defacement and the future of that famous face.
When did you paint the mural and why?
I painted the mural in memory of ODB. The mural was done for a documentary on [ODB] that [ODB’s cousin] Raison [Allah] was producing through Zu Films. I happen to be an enormous Wu-Tang Clan fan, so it was a dream come true for me to do this and a highlight of my career.
Why did you paint the mural in Bed-Stuy?
Bed-Stuy was ODB’s neighborhood. RZA, GZA and ODB spent much of their childhood in Bed-Stuy. The corner of Putnam and Franklin (where mural is located) was a focal point for them. While painting the mural, I learned a lot about ODB’s neighborhood and its people. Many of them knew ODB personally, or from his childhood. It was surreal and the people were very friendly.
When was it defaced?
I’m not exactly sure when it was defaced, but when I found out I was heartbroken and felt disrespected as an artist. Either paint it over or leave it alone—don’t disrespect the memory of ODB and don’t disrespect me as an artist. I took it very personally and wish I found out who did it. It always hurt me to see it that way. Several people in the community contacted me to fix it, but I was unable to obtain permission from the owner of the building that the mural is on. Several attempts were made but none were successful.
I read that the face was recently repainted. Do you know when that happened?
This I am not sure of, but it seems to be fairly recent. Actually, I didn’t repaint his face. I found out about it from someone in the community. Even though I would have loved to fix it myself, I was thrilled that someone went ahead and fixed it. It felt like a wound was healed and ODB’s memory was respected. I would like to thank the artist who fixed it if they contact me.
I went down there recently and took a look at the mural. There’s a smear of grey paint on ODB’s face. Did you know that is was defaced again?
This is news to me. I had no idea someone defaced it again. I want to tell you here, in this interview, that whoever defaced it needs to respect a person’s memory and an artist’s art. If I obtain permission from the owner of the building, I will fix it as many times as it takes until those who deface it give up. Every attempt to gain permission has been denied. It is one thing to paint something over, decommission something etc, but it is fucked- up to let it rot there like that—defaced, without it being fixed or painted over. To me, personally, it feels like a wounded animal— either shoot it and end the misery or give it some help and make it healthy. Do not let it suffer like that. I would love to fix it and make it even better, more detailed etc.
Check out more of Goldfeld’s work at victorgoldfeld.com.