Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Round Robin: Obstructed Signs and Non-Conforming Crosses

This is my entry for this week's Round Robin Photo Challenge: "Obstruction," as suggested by Nancy of Nancy Luvs Pix. As it happens, it's also a follow-up to the previous RR Photo Challenge, "Signs."

Despite the obstruction, a few of God's
children manage to wave hi.

Remember the St. Michael's "prophetic sign" I showed you last time? It's the one that says, "EITHER WE ARE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN...OR NO ONE IS." As you may recall, that sign has been covered up recently - in other words, obstructed - by a printed plastic sign advertising St. Michael's Parish Day School. You can just see a few children waving at the edges of the wooden one if you peek at the sides.

This past Sunday, I happened to notice that the plastic sign no longer covered the wooden one. I also noticed and remembered the other side of the sign, which is visible from the parking lot, a message to parishioners as we leave church. I set out to take a photo of both sides. The message "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord" is partially obstructed by the pale, thorny sticks of a dead ocotillo. This is appropriate, I think, because the prickliness of our own tempers often gets in the way of our being peaceful and loving.

The sign's message to departing parishionersA message of peace, obstructed by thorns of ocotillo

As I set out to photograph the back side of the sign, three of my friends waited for me in my car, including 100-year-old Eva. I had put the air conditioning on, but I didn't want to keep them waiting for long. So I took a few shots of the "Go in peace" sign of the sign, and left re-photographing the "God's children" side for another day. This was a mistake, it turns out. On Monday, the sign for the school was back.

Hi there!Nails in the wood hold down the second sign,
and obstruct the children's view.

On Tuesday after work, I walked around and took more pictures of the sign from different sides, all the ones you see here and more. I thought about slipping a few of the grommets of the plastic sign off the nails that are holding it on, and getting a quick shot of the sign underneath before putting it back the way I found it. But it sounded tricky to do, and a lot of traffic was going by, and I was afraid people would think I was vandalizing the church. So I didn't do it.

While taking these shots, I discovered another sign. It's a Notice of Hearing before the City of Tucson's Sign Code Advisory and Appeals Board. It seems that St. Michael's is "requesting a variance to exceed the allowable sign area of twenty square feet frontage on Wilmot Road." The hearing took place on March 15th, but this is the first I've heard of it. Then again, I don't attend Vestry meetings.

A notice of hearing about the famous sign,
and noncomforming crosses.

According to the notice, the St. Michael's prophetic sign is 20.5 square feet, just over the limit for a "Single Family Residential District, Public Uses and Churches" zone. (St. Michael's is next door to the hospital and the public library on one side, houses on the other. The other side of the street is all businesses and offices.) In addition, the notice lists St. Michael's as having "six noncomforming 'crosses,'" which it says have a total area of "31.3 square foot." The requested variance is to increase the allowed signage area enough to include the sign, the crosses, and more. The leftover square footage is probably for the temporary signs the church puts up from time to time to promote such events as the English Faire and the Advent Bazaar.

two of the noncomforming crossesTwo of the noncomforming crosses, as seen from the parking lot.

Now there are two more points about this I find instructive - or rather, obstructive. For one thing, I can only find three "nonconforming crosses" at St. Michael's, at least without an exhaustive search. The ones I did find aren't right up against the "frontage" of Wilmot, anyway. One is over the end of the left wing of classrooms, one is over the arch that leads to the tree-lined walkway in front the the church proper, and one is directly over the church itself. They're not signs, either, in the sense of having words or pictures. They're crosses, and they're part of the architecture. Gee. Imagine a church having crosses on display! And from Wilmot Road, the view of the crosses I saw was partly obstructed anyway. So is the church itself, for that matter. What's visible from the street is mostly the school.

One of the crosses is near the white truck, above and to the leftOne of the crosses is near the white truck,
above and to the left

And the sign. That's very visible from the street. I have to wonder why this hearing took place just this month, when the wooden sign and the crosses have been there for many years. Did someone try to use zoning laws to achieve a political or religious purpose, namely the censorship of a sign the person found objectionable? Or was it simply a matter of the church trying to ensure it doesn't run afoul of city sign regulations in the future? I don't know, and I don't think I'm going to ask.

But I sure hope the Sign Code Advisory and Appeals Board agrees to the variance, and doesn't obstruct the church's ability to "sign" its messages to travelers on Wilmot Road.


Now go see what everyone else is posting for this challenge. And yes, you can still participate, anytime on Wednesday, March 29th, or up to a week afterward. See the Round Robin blog for details.

Linking List
as of Thursday, March 30th, 1:14 PM MST

Nancy - Nancy Luvs Pics Posted!

Karen - Outpost Mâvarin Posted!

Carly - Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly Posted!

Dorn - Through The Eyes Of The Beholder Posted!

Julie - Julie's Web Journal Posted!

Jessica - QuickSilver Posted!

Sara - Animated Seasons Posted!

T.J. - Photo Inclusions: Every Picture Tells A Story

Tammy- My Life As A Warrior Posted!

Steven - (sometimes)photoblog Posted!

Erica - Photograph Of My Soul New!

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Carly said...

Very good follow-up to our last challenge, and some excellent examples of an obstruction! Good entry. :)

tess said...

Hope I can get a comment to post, grr had trouble for some time.
Loved the interpertations.

Nancy said...

This is EXACTLY how I intended this topic to be used! You did a wonderful job...
Thanks for playing!

Sara said...

Terrific!! :)

Animated Seasons

Dorn said...

Very good interpretation!

Steven said...

The first one is neat. I like the little hand peeking up!

julie said...

Another wonderful story as usual.

Tammy said...

St. Michaels is beautiful! I was raised Catholic. The message of peace obstruction was what I needed for my anger over my obstruction picture. I'm acting like the thorny Ocotillo. LOL
Very good entry!

TJ said...

Wow you nailed this one!!!

Digital Art Photography for Dummies said...

Love your background. I know Nancy. She won my book in a photo challenge. Hope you get to check out my redone bookofsigns.blogspot.com blog!