Patriotic murals on Salem’s business have sparked questions and controversies this week.
Artists claim that the city is forcibly removing a mural depicting the iconic image of a flag-raising American soldier following the Battle of Iwo Jima, and the artwork has been attacked for its content. Claims to be.
However, city officials say no removal orders or fines have been imposed.
City officials said the 4910 Turner Road SE mural on the side of Valley Roofing is at the code compliance crosshair because it is large enough to require a permit.
A review of the history of real estate by Salem’s planning department has shown that it has not been signed, applied for a mural permit, submitted or approved, city officials said.
The artist who created the mural, Mario de Leon, said he brought it to social media on Tuesday and is making a petition to maintain the mural. He claimed that the city gave him two options: remove the murals or give it to the Salem Arts Association.
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Some argued that the allegations caused anger on social media and that the move was politically motivated by the content.
“They don’t want us to talk about it, even when we help us fight in the war,” Deleon said in his Instagram post.
City officials disputed this claim.
“This mural is a beautiful way to celebrate and recognize this important moment in our history and the sacrifices made by veterans and their families,” officials said in a statement.
Valley Roofing owner John Taylor said he and Deleon didn’t think they needed a permit when they decided to add a mural instead of raising the American flag outside the recently constructed building. rice field.
Deleon said his work was neither Democratic nor Republican, creating murals that reflected important periods of history and shedding light on the colored soldiers who fought in World War II. .. He and Jon Taylor, owner of Valley Roofing, said he had been thinking he could paint murals for a year.
“If it was acceptable / recommended, we would have already paid for the signature permit,” Taylor said in a statement released Thursday.
City officials said they value the quality of work and its implications for many in the region.
However, they said the city’s rules for public art murals and signs do not take into account the content and craftsmanship of public art and signs.
“The reason for the Code Compliance contact is due to the fact that the mural was created without an application to the Salem Public Arts Committee,” said Salem Public Works spokesman Trevor Smith. “Because it has not been established as public art throughout the process, it is considered a large wall sign in the city code. Our sign code is not related to the content or method of the sign, but to the size, location and structure of the sign. It is drawn. “
Unless the mural goes through the process of public art and is included in the city’s public art collection, it falls under the city’s signature code.
City officials have been working with business owners on compliance since November, Smith said.No fines or enforcement measures
Owners were notified in mid-December, and city officials said they were prepared to extend the December 29 deadline as business owners are considering options.
A city spokesman said Valley Roofing is not the only company facing unlicensed sign compliance.
“At this point, we are working with several other real estate owners and businesses that have unlicensed wall signs on the building,” they said. “In each case, we help real estate owners navigate the best route to go through the sign code or public mural process, based on the size of other signs that are currently violating the Salem revision code. I am. “
Deleon believes the project is overwhelmingly endorsed by the community and Taylor is ready to work with the city to maintain the mural or turn it into a public mural without change.
“I’m afraid this is a problem. Unfortunately, the situation is out of my control,” he said.
Taylor said on Thursday dozens of people stopped by their business to show their support.
Some people tell us not to retreat. Others advise them to seek legal advice.
“Many people quote the First Amendment and say,’Ignore the city and its fees,'” Taylor said. “We want to get along with the city, but this is also a very powerful example of how art moves people, and the whole community of people with the sense of purpose needed in politically harsh climates. Activates. “
He said the petition to preserve the mural has already won hundreds of signatures on social media.
Taylor added that the process of classifying a painting as a mural requires an easement, a long application process, and a deliberative period.
“Especially considering how people across the state stood up to appreciate Mario’s beautiful artwork, one size for this is perfect for everyone. It seems to entertain a slight sensitivity to the veteran community. No, “Taylor said.
He pointed out the contrast between cities that take action against murals, while the murals are on private land and allow homeless camps in downtown Salem.
“Exempting taxes is absolutely within the authority of the city council,” Taylor said. “If the mural donation is part of it, I accept it as long as the benefactor cares to save the compliment as we do. Think of the nature of the art and that it is on private land. We feel this could be an easy victory for everyone. “
For questions, comments, and news tips, email reporter Whitney Woodworth ([email protected]), call 503-910-6616, or follow us on Twitter. @wmwoodworth..