The removal and replacement of a Peer to Pier mural without the artists' knowledge has a Charleston councilman and the artist angered and baffled by the city's actions.
The mural, which used to be on the easternmost pier on Kanawha Boulevard, depicted a riverboat, the state Capitol and the South Side Bridge as its main features. Its design was approved as part of the 2012 Peer to Pier series.
But city officials said the finished product didn't exactly follow the original design, and there were issues with the application of the protective clear coat.
"It was brought to my attention this year one pier was not produced with the quality the other piers were painted with," City Manager David Molgaard said at Tuesday's city council meeting.
That doesn't matter, said Councilman Cubert Smith, who noticed the mural change and brought up the issue to council. He said the artist should've been permitted to correct the mural to the city's satisfaction.
"The thing that bothers me as an artist is, Was he asked to redo it over?" Smith said Tuesday. "It bothers me . . . that he wasn't asked to come back and do the work correctly."
Spencer-based artist Rodney Harper, who painted the original mural, said the city never notified him the mural was removed, nor did anyone even tell him something was wrong.
"Nobody even bothered to call," Harper said.
Not only did the city have the mural sandblasted off the pier, it also approved a new mural to be painted over Harper's. The new mural is part of the 2013 series, and is listed on the FestivALL website as a "Boulevard replacement."
"I hadn't even known they painted it over," Harper said.
Harper said that he had been using the mural as a public example of his work. Artists can then use such displays to help win more commissions.
"That's a reference point for me; I use it for part of my portfolio," he said. "(The city) made me look like a fool."