What do you do if you don’t like your neighbor’s creativity?

I thought this was an interesting scene from Columbia Heights/Mt. Pleasant. You can see that the gutter system has been reconfigured and on one of the gutters is written, “creativity takes courage”:

But what if you think that your neighbor’s creativity is actually a bit of an eyesore for the block?

So a couple of questions – what do you think about this case in particular? Do you like how the gutter system is set up? Do you think it looks nice? Do you think it’s creative?

And also in this case or any other case where you don’t like your neighbor’s art – what do you do? At what point do you just suck it up and say this is life, we have a right to do whatever we want on our own private property?  Or when do you approach your neighbor and have a discussion?

93 Comment

  • Wow, that is er, ah, um, creative? And they sure are humble about their crappy “art.” I wouldn’t say that it taks courage to put that in your front yard. It’s more like social deafness. I love art in front yards and elsewhere, and I am very tolerant of stuff I don’t particularly like, but this is just stupid and ugly.

    If I were their neighbor, I guess I’d ask them how long they intended to keep their art installation up and hope they got the message. But mostly I’d just put up with it for a while. I mean, what else are you going to do? It’s their property and it’s a somewhat free country. If it was still there in 6 months I might get on them caling it a safety hazard or something.

    • “I am very tolerant of stuff I don’t particularly like, but this is just stupid and ugly.”


  • one word: sledgehammer

  • if you don’t think you can get DCRA to tell them to get rid of it, learn to live with it.

  • It takes courage to take down your numbers awful art at 2AM.

  • Don’t complain. Just smile and wait until they go out of town and when they come back it will be gone.

  • live with it. it’s their yard.

    honestly if it’s just something that you find ugly or what have you, and doesn’t pose a threat to anyone (physically :), then what right do you have?

    i think it might also be pertinent to mention i despise homeowners’ associations…

    • +1
      Exactly – its part of living in a city. A little wacky art never killed anyone.

      • If you dont like it, you should move back to idaho??

        • I love all the ‘move back to xxx’ comments from people that have lived here less than 5 years….

          • Yeah, you shouldn’t be able to tell anyone to move back to “x” till you’ve been here for at least 5 years + 1 day. After that, however, feel free to treat everyone who’s not from within a 10 block radius of 14th and U like the pariahs they are.

        • Just to clarify – I dont agree with the statement – I was just saying it to conform to the norms expected of me by the commenters on this blog.

  • It’s all urban karma, baby. If you can have a legitimate argument against their art (that interrupts no public space, sidewalks, etc), then they can have a legitimate argument against your front-yard xmas inflatable dipshit or pink bird-feeder or six-foot wind-chimes. I don’t know about y’all, but I will tolerate NO-ONE placing demands on how I choose to decorate my property. Plus, honestly: Being easily offended is a sign of deeply rooted personal weakness. WEAKNESS!

    In all things, be cool. You then have the moral high-ground when the neighbor does something TRULY inconsiderate and THEN you have righteous grounds to set fire to their car and paint their door with goatsblood. But first, be cool. I’ve found that 8 times out of ten, you’ll get cool back. And that is a much better way to live.

    • Gotta wonder if you’d say the same thing about a “Rush Limbaugh for President” mural…

      • HA! I’d rather see Limbaugh’s skin made into boots and handbags, but if my neighbors painted a mural of Pinochet humping Pat Buchanan on a bed of skulls, who am I to bitch at ’em for it? Everyone’s home is their Sacred Empire. Actually that sounds like a cool art project, come to think of it….

  • I think this is actually a watering system, right? Assuming so, it’s pretty awesome in that respect.

    Anyway the naysayers should really get over themselves and reserve their energy for whining about how poor black children are allowed to stay out late and other expressions of their inflated sense of entitlement.

    • ah

      +1. If it’s watering the plants right . . . WIN.

      (of course, it probably flushes out all the soil from the pots each time we get one of those summer downpours)

  • 1. I think it looks pretty neat. A cool addition to the neighborhood.

    2. Even if you disagree, it’s not your lawn, so butt out!

  • Guess what…it is a personal thing, and it is not doing any harm to the neighborhood. This is one of the many things that I enjoy seeing in DC. Creativity is alive and well in our City.

  • Unless it infringes on someone else’s ability to live their life the way they want to, then there’s no harm. I think its ugly as hell, but that person may not particularly like my front door, or my tree, or my patio set…

    who cares? live and let live. doesnt mean that I wont quietly judge that weirdo who put that “art” up in their yard though…

  • It looks dumb and the quote is self-righteous, but it’s their yard. They can decorate as they see fit. It doesn’t mean that neighbors can’t shame them into removing it.

  • The folks at three of the four corners of 5th and K, NW have been pondering this same question for a couple years now.


  • If people can’t handle the results of their neighbor’s freedom to do with their private property as they will there are such things as gated and managed communities.

    • what are the chances that the results of this creativity will get the cops called to their property for every whiff of potsmoke coming out a window now.

      I will bet people real money that by this time in 2012 POP will have covered someone’s arrest at that property brought on by annoyed neighbors.

      • I’d do that — call in noise complaints every time they have a raging kegger.

        That or bring the hammer of street justice down in the form of scissors taken to duct tape. Hmmm. I think my vigilante name would be NIMBO.

  • They should be able to do what they want.

    I personally think it’s hideous, smarmy, and will kill their plants. But seriously, have at it hoss– at least until your drainage issues start to affect my property.

  • this makes me think of the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for.’

    complain about someones creative watering solution and you may end up with something a whole lot worse, like drug addicts camped out on the doorstep, unkempt weedlots, astroturf or concrete.

  • I wish my neighbor would do something like this. His entire roof stormwater runoff heads onto my property due to his lack of proper routing of the gutters, time to build a flood wall and swamp his shit.

  • The caption should read “inconsiderate douchbaggery takes helicopter parenting.”

  • Maybe it’s me but this seems like a stupid question. If your neighbors’ “creativity” is confined to their property and is not materially limiting your right to enjoy your property, you don’t do anything. What other answer is there? Actually, there is another answer – move.

  • There are a million communities with HOAs. but i, for one, love the fact that i could paint my house whatever color i want or put an ugly gutter configuration in my front yard. in an age where personal property rights are all but gone, it’s fantastic that we have the still have the small right to do this. while their display may be distasteful, it is fucking awesome.

  • i have a new hero and i’m gonna copy that sh#t. it rocks and it’s better than having a crackhead living in the basement next door. plus my ‘maters might grow like a mo’fo’.

  • That looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Does the owner know that you’re responsible for whatever happens as a result of the water going… wherever it will go? Property damage, or personal injury? In the winter, that drainage system will just be begging for a slip & fall suit.

  • What if you were trying to sell the house next door? At best, this thing has a neutral affect on property values.

    -1 It’s not functionally watering anything that rain isn’t already. Irrigation fail.

    We can assume the person who lives here doesn’t care what the neighbors think — a bad quality to have in a neighbor. However, I bet you could buy some medical marijuana off them.

    Come to think of it, that’s all this is: some pot head’s poorly conceived notion of how to water the dirt in their front yard. Weed inspiration fail.

  • maybe they intend to grow hops.

  • There’s nothing more satisfying than “freedom of expression meets freedom of expression”. So put up a big sign critiquing their artwork. Address both the lack of quality construction and any discernible artistic ability. Find some pompous art critic on line and copy their words so you sound equally pompous.

    Then re-post to pop so we can all have a good laugh.

  • The people that lived there tried to throw those gutter pieces out for a few weeks before they decided to make their hipster gutter, nail polish and electric tape rat-Habitrail. I guess if you can’t make trash out of something, might as well make it art! Still, this thing is better than when those idiots left a couch out in front of their house for a month, and it does keep down the amount of people that can hang around outside throwing beer bottles when they throw their raging keggers! I think this is a good example of when drunk pothead hipster party-people go too far. It is their right to do it if it is their property, but if I was their landlord, I probably would be over there in a second tearing that crap down.

  • Any chance to this neighbor to sell and move to Bloomingdale? This would allow the owner to be in the First on 2nd Artwalk?

  • I used to live in that house about 13 years ago. It was a run down bike messenger crash pad hell hole then – looks like not much has changed.

  • Glad I don’t live next door.

  • This really is a Rorschach test for civility. Either you have respect for other people’s property in a dense urban enviroment or you are a classless, self-centered, ironic-member’s-only-jacket-wearing wean.

  • Just go talk to them and see what they think. Say “I’ve talked to him and her and the people over there, and we’re all really embarrassed by your gutterwerks and we’d appreciate it if you’d make it temporary. What do you say about taking it down in the winter?”

    If that doesn’t work, call 311 and find out if you’ve got any remedies. But that’s a doucher thing to do. In my experience, being polite and talking openly about something like this will work out better than sending a photo to the Prince of Petworth and hoping for some dipshit suggestion for a passive aggressive solution.

  • Why not just go knock and their door and talk to them about it? “Hi, neighbor. I’ve spoken with him and her and that guy over there, and we’re all a little embarrassed for our block. We love the art, but we’re hoping you’d agree to make it temporary art, perhaps taking down come winter.”

    In my experience, being polite and up-front works better than doing something like emailing a photo to the Prince of Petworth and hoping you’ll get an idea for some passive-aggressive solution. Just deal with it. If they’re not receptive, call 311 and see if you’ve got a solution. But that’s a doucher thing to do, honestly.

  • I think it’s pretty neat, though amateurish and made of slapdash workmanship. However, that “Creativity Takes Courage!” writing makes me want to smack the dude across the face for being a douche. Creativity takes courage. It also takes talent. The homeowner would be better off embracing his identity as a cheap person making do to come up with a neat way to water his plants. No need to dress it up as being a mark of bravery.

    • I actually like the “Creativity Takes Courage” sentiment, and would find it inspirational if it weren’t inscribed on something that clearly involved less than 30 seconds of thought and 10 minutes of construction.

      That being said, these quirky things are what make living in the city so interesting and it’s probably best to accept them. Though I’d hate to be the person that’s try to rent or sell property on that block.

  • Gives new meaning to the term “keeping it gutter”!

  • Wow – how nice to see that DC is full of raging Libertarians. Did it ever occur to y’all that part of living in a city is consideration of your neighbors sensibilities? If I stick a crucifix, or a burning cross, or a broken down car in my front yard, nobody here sees something wrong with that?

    Really, they should take this crap down and bring a sense of order to the streetscape. The best “public art” in DC are the wonderful historic facades and tree-lined streets. That should be enough for anybody.

    [As a side note, I find it amusing that everyone is defending this guy’s ugly artwork, but when a developer erects a pop-up people are up in arms… isn’t there a contradiction?]

  • Oh look at me, I am so special and original and all those things so common.

  • Until you talk to them about it civilly, there’s no real reason to complain. Something simple like, I know you can do what you want on your property, but that does look really bad.

    The winner of bad taste neighbor award goes to the house on Swann, which I think was featured before, that erected a huge 4-foot tall PVC-pipe contraption/\fence\ around the treebox, drilled holes in it, and the \planted\ fake plastic flowers in each hole.

  • Yeah, walked by this just now on the way to the bus. Not beautiful by any means, but not hurting anybody either. No problem there, water your plants in a cool way and that’s good. That said, I thought the “It takes courage to be creative” pushed it over the line from “goofy and kind of neat” to “get over yourself, this is irritating.”

  • This has inspired me. I’m going to decorate my front yard with a mound of embalmed dead rats atop of which I will place a tastefully decorated cross that reads, “Creativity Kills”

  • looks pretty stupid, but to each his own. probably not ever gonna help house values in the immediate area but that’s not a homeowner’s only consideration. the ‘artist’ obviously likes it so whatev. maybe some nice wind storm will knock it down.

  • this “contraption” is definitely a wintertime lawsuit waiting to happen. Two of the downspouts come within a foot of the sidewalk. Water goes thru, freezes on the sidewalk overnight, slip fall bam and LAWSUIT. Do what you please, drown your plants, express yourself, but, you look like an damn fool, and if you hurt someone inadvertantly in the process, well, shoulda thought about that before courageously being creative. and my god you come off as a self-righteous no-talent ass-clown with that creativity takes courage nonsense.

  • Maybe it is not finished yet. MAYBE the gutter water will run off into a koi pond made from their recycle bin I won’t even mention the water fixture/bird bath made from broken plastic lawn chairs. heehee.

  • you know, hitler was creative too.

  • I want to hate this, but as many times as I’ve railed about crappy vandalism in these comments, I guess I’ve got to respect that it’s their property to do with what they want, within reason. And this isn’t outside of reason.

    Bonus points if it actually is a watering system, but these would be canceled out by the negative points already earned for the d-bag self-congratulatory message. Such courage there, Braveheart!

  • me

    Kinda reminds me of the contraption Doc Brown made in order to feed the dog, make toast, etc that you see in the beginning of Back to the Future. Wonder what kind of Mousetrap game this could be used for…

    At least if you lived next door, it’d be easy to tell people how to find your house. “I live next to the house with the ridiculous-looking gutters all over the front of it.” Your pizza guy will never get lost again.

  • I say live and let live. I wouldn’t hesitate to tell my neighbor if I thought their yard art was ugly . . . and I think this yard art is ugly . . . but I wouldn’t take it further than that. I’m doing some gardening in my front yard that departs significantly from the traditional mowed lawn approach and I appreciate the freedom to do so. I welcome my neighbors’ comments and I take them to heart, but they shouldn’t have control over my space.

    Regarding whether this is a watering system, if that’s their intention, they need to do some reading and re-thinking. Rainwater capture is best accomplished with a rain barrel and a drip irrigation system–and the DC Department of the Environment has great rainwater harvest educational and equipment resources available to DC residents (http://ddoe.dc.gov/ddoe/cwp/view,a,1209,q,497794.asp). Some of these gutters are pointed to concrete, which leads me to conclude they weren’t intending to design an irrigation system.

  • Creativity and imagination is when you have taste, culture and intelligence. Courage is taking a sledgehammer to this and then beating the neighbor over the head with it!!!

  • Clearly the correct answer is: Write into a neighborhood blog and complain about it.

  • If I lived next door I would put a huge sign up on my porch with an arrow pointed at the gutters that says ‘THESE ARE STUPID’ or something like that.

    (or the sledgehammer 2 am idea)

  • It’s pretty weird, that’s for sure. But seems like a great way to ensure rainwater reaches thirsty plants! If neighbors have a problem with the artistic part, they city has a rain barrel program! They’ll come and install the rain barrels for you FOR FREE. The water collects after storms, and you just hook up a hose to use.

    • Not at all. It’s a way to ensure a torrential flood that washes out the handful of spots where the pipes drain, which will more than likely kill whatever is under them.

      The right way to keep your plants watered is to water them. If you want to use rainwater then get a rain barrel which will allow you controlled use of it. This is stupid and will just cause damage.

      The one at the left will almost certainly send a gusher into the neighbor’s yard as well. The ones in the front will wash topsoil into the sidewalk. There’s a reason why gutters drain into the storm sewer: otherwise it ends up in your basement. It’s way too much water when it’s raining, and useless when it’s not.

  • Not your property. STFU and live with it you stupid whiner.

  • Chances of this being installed by the owner of the property: <5%

    Homeowners don't generally spent time installing "watering" systems (which will actually just cause massive erosion where the pipes drain) with duct tape. People who actually care about water conservation and aren't stoned get rain buckets.

    Find out the property owner's name from the DCRA database and send them a picture, problem will be quickly solved.

  • Yeah, wasn’t too hard to figure out where this house is. It’s not owner occupied. The owner, as it turns out, lives in Mount Pleasant.

    If I was a betting man, I’d guess this will be gone in about 2 days.

    • Maybe so, but where will the neighborhood rats go for excercise and companionship? I think this Ratbitrail is a great example of outreach to the rat community.

      P.S. – Everyone, the fact that one of the gutter pipes ends in a plant does NOT make it a watering system. Most of the pipes end up in dirt or the sidewalk.

  • The upstairs residents of this house hate this art.

    We were wondering how to get rid of it nicely without severing all ties we might have with the basement dweller that, constructed the pointless gutter duct tape mess. It’s non functioning and annoying.

  • How did you allow it to go up in the first place?

    Just tear it down and throw it out and tell your landlord you did them a favor.

  • Better than their dogs crapping in one’s yard and vegetable gardens and flowers beds and tearing and digging them up.
    And damn window rattling boom boxing \music\.
    I would put up with ugly rather than invasive and destructive.

  • This looks like tenant’s revenge to me. If this property is still a rental, it’s a great way to piss off the landlord.

  • My name is Anthony aka [email protected] and i live at 1471 Monroe Street.and created this downspout installation as part of an article i am writing about a new art genre i call recreation art. I am here to make it clear to all that i am the only person in residence at this address that had anything to do with the monstrosity (as some have called it)in the yard. It has managed to create quite a stir amongst the masses of Monroe Street. Recreation art is taking something that is considered to have out lived its useful purpose and give it one last chance at being worthwhile. Its not necessarily trash to treasure but trash to something else. Some say art others say eyesore. I say yeah! I in the past 2 weeks have had the opportunity to meet more of my neighbors than in the 2 years i have lived at this residence. I have made friend and foe but i have lived an experience that allowed me to see and grow, to realize how people can be so utterly judgmental of another persons vision. I never claimed beauty or functionality i only took a moment to look at life from a different perspective and my god it was a journey. How ugly is it to see this constructed as such or to see it as it is now in a pile as trash in the yard. Whats the difference between this pile of aluminum taped and screwed together or aluminum cans and cigarette buts and trash laying in the yards of this neighborhood. The comment was made that i have defiled the aesthetics (Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty.) of the neighborhood. Has anyone looked around at the overgrown bushes and grasses or the amount of trash, not to mention trash cans that line this street that has lost its luster over the past 2 years and do anything to change it. Maybe if people took a little more time to look at their own front yards the neighborhood could be a more aesthetically pleasing place to walk. I apologize to anyone i offended by expressing myself and admit based on peoples reactions that i left this for way longer than originally intended to prove a point that a bad attitude and attacking one mans vision simply out of embarrassment or what other people could think will get you no where. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Despite all the controversy this has been a wonderful experience and i hope that when the yard has been cleaned and decorated with a brick patio, flower-cart and bench that people won’t be offended by my vision again.

  • 10 August 2010 9:17 AM | Tyro Said:

    I think it’s pretty neat, though amateurish and made of slapdash workmanship. However, that “Creativity Takes Courage!” writing makes me want to smack the dude across the face for being a douche. Creativity takes courage. It also takes talent. The homeowner would be better off embracing his identity as a cheap person making do to come up with a neat way to water his plants. No need to dress it up as being a mark of bravery.

    10 August 2010 10:44 PM | Tyro Said:

    Mr. freakshow, in addition to creating something unattractive and of poor workmanship (duct tape? really?), you really need to work on your writing skills.

    WOW the attack continues. Henri Matiesse was not only the man to say “Creativity takes courage” but said it best when he said “An artist must never be a prisoner. An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success, etc.” As an artist i take offense to the judgment of those who do not have courage to do anything more than attack ones integrity or abilities in a blog. And i never claimed to be a writer so attacking my writing skills…really?

  • It just ruins the beauty of the house and garden.

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