Mar 30, 2023 - News

Doomed mural in Jackson Ward wins reprieve

Photo: Ned Oliver/Axios

A Swiss artist's two-story mural can remain in a Jackson Ward alleyway, city officials decided this week.

What’s happening: After demanding its removal earlier this year because it violated regulations for city historic districts, a city review board had a change of heart Tuesday evening.

Why it matters: In a city filled with murals, news that painting walls requires city approval in certain districts surprised some, including the Jackson Ward homeowner, Joshua Shaheen.

  • Meanwhile, officials reviewing the situation worried that they were setting an unfortunate precedent by letting this one slide.

What they’re saying: Members of the Commission of Architectural Review, which functions like a governmental HOA for city historic districts, said they didn’t have a better alternative.

  • "Removing the paint will do more damage than good," commission member Andrew Moore said. "As much as I hate to say it, I think the best course of action is to maintain the mural."

Catch up fast: A Swiss artist who goes by BustArt painted the mural at the end of last year.

  • Shaheen says he offered up the side of his Monroe Street home in hopes that it would discourage graffiti, which he said had been an ongoing issue.
  • "It brings some color, some life, to again this dingy alleyway. It covers up the prior graffiti," Shaheen told NBC12 last month.

He applied for retroactive approval after the city caught wind of the mural about a month later, but instead the architecture commission directed him to come back with a plan to remove the mural.

The other side: The city bars painting brick in historic districts because of concerns it can trap moisture and lead historic structures to deteriorate.

What’s next: As a compromise, the commission directed Shaheen to cap the top of the brick wall to divert rain water.

Yes, but: Officials warned others who might paint first and seek approval later that they may get their way, but they’d be "dragged through a mile of glass" first.

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