Harper admits that the finished product is slightly different than the original design, but he also maintains that Lori Brannon, a neighborhood planner for the Charleston Planning Department, approved the changes. Brannon was out of her office Thursday and Friday, and couldn't be reached for comment.
That change involved the addition of a purple border around the edge of the finished mural. Harper said the border helped bring out the colors in the rest of the mural, and Brannon approved the change. That's the only difference between what was proposed and what was finished.
Harper is an experienced tattoo artist in Spencer. He said the mural reflected elements of tattoo design concerning colors.
"Everything I'd done was OK'd," he said. "I did deviate from the original picture, but I was approved to do it."
Harper said he would have had no problem correcting the flaws city officials saw in the mural. The mural was up for almost a year before being removed.
"I should've been able to take care of it," he said. "I'd have done it for free."
Every artist who paints a Peer to Pier mural receives $2,000 for their work, with funding for payment coming from several sources. That means that between Harper's mural and the new mural being painted, $4,000 has been spent just painting the same highway pier twice - a figure that doesn't include the cost of removing the first mural.
"If it wasn't what they wanted, why did they approve it and pay me," Harper said.
As for the clear coat, Molgaard said it was not adhered evenly, and would damage the mural anyway. Harper said he didn't know of issues with the clear coat, but did say it rained "right after we put it on."
Harper said in addition to the mural removal, the way he was treated by the city over the course of the year has him even more perplexed. After the murals were completed, city officials recognized the artists and presented them with certificates in appreciation for the work.
"The truth of the matter is they just didn't like it," he said.
Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Mur...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.