“Polka dots aren’t just for bikinis,” according to the Grand Forks, North Dakota painter behind the now-famous polka dot house. Jim Deitz, a retired house painter, is in the process of converting a two-story house into an apartment rental complex, by covering the exterior in brightly-colored dots. “Pizza delivery drivers won’t have any trouble finding this place,” Deitz joked to the Associated Press on Wednesday. “You can’t miss it.”
The paint upgrade of his 100-year-old home has become a local attraction, with crowds gathered daily to watch Deitz choose colors for his slightly imperfect circles. He first got the idea for the project after a virtual tour of colorful homes. “I looked at all kinds of crazy paint jobs on the Internet and came up with this polka dot deal,” Deitz said. “She looks good.”
But not everyone’s digging the dots. Ryan Brooks, a local city planner, thinks the home is a blight on the neighborhood. “I think my opinion is the same as everybody – I wouldn’t want to be living next to it,” Brooks told the Associated Press. But there’s more to this story… Last year, the city backed out of a plan to buy Deitz’s home for $100,000. Now Brooks sees a connection between the dots and the failed deal. Is it a form of protest? An aggressive flick off to city planners? It’s neither, says Deitz. He’s just hoping the dots will brighten up the neighborhood, and perhaps, up his property value. (He says he’d charge the city $50,000 more if they wanted to reconsider a purchase with the new paint job. Any takers?)
Despite his pro-dot stance, the new landlord must have anticipated some dissent. Before going ahead with his plans, Deitz checked with City Hall to make sure he wasn’t breaking any law by decorating his home in circles. Turns out House-Dotting is totally legal in area, if not neighborly. “I’m glad you don’t live next to me,” fellow painter and Grand Forks resident Gary Kokron told Deitz when he saw the house. Technically, the new landlord doesn’t actually live there. The place he calls home is a decidedly dot-free house nearby.
This isn’t the first time a fresh coat of neon paint has stirred controversy. Back in February, an Orange County couple turned their home into a bright green billboard in order to pay their mortgage, much to the dismay of neighboring families. In Edenton, North Carolina, one home’s purple shutters had locals screaming to City Hall. And in Thorntown, Indiana, homeowners raged against one resident’s outrageous lawn decorations, which include a giant Styrofoam alligator and a graffiti-covered motorboat. But is it Art? —Unfortunately, not to disgruntled neighbors.
In most towns in America, you’ll find a debate brewing over those oddball homes considered eyesores by some and creative expressions by others. I know that in my hometown, on the darker edge of town, there is a bright pink house with white shutters glowing amongst the greyness and blah of the neighborhood it lives in. While some find it to be an eyesore, I find it whimsical because I know that someone very unique lives there and loves the house enough to give it something nice to wear to light it’s way in the darkness, a fresh coat of pink.