KHG and one of his paintings. Image via First Coast News
Kevin "Chip" Southworth, the Jacksonville artist who last year tagged 11 of the city's utility boxes with paintings similar to that of legendary New York City artist/activist Keith Haring, entered a no contest plea yesterday and agreed to pay $778 for the "property" he "damaged," plus $300 in court costs and 50 hours of community service. As such, no criminal conviction will appear on Southworth's record.
Chip earned the moniker "Keith Haring's Ghost" in 2013 when he began spreading the distinctive imagery in response to the Jacksonville City Council's failure to enact new ordinances barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. Originally sheriffs charged KHG with a felony, but that was lowered once it was determined the "damage" to the utility boxes came in under $1,000.
The murals have since all been removed, because proper respect for utility boxes is more important than colorful messages of acceptance and love. We know, we know, how would we feel if it was our drab olive or grey nub he had painted over? [Perhaps Mills 50 artists should weigh in?] Don't worry, we're clutching our pearls.