When is a mural not a mural?
According to a recent resolution from Nelson’s Cultural Development Committee and Heritage Commission, the mural painted on local sporting good store Boomtown is actually a sign, and needs to be modified to fall within the city’s public art guidelines.
The piece, which was painted without city permission, has been acting as a test case for the two groups as they work out a joint art-approval process for the city.
Councillor Donna Macdonald, who sits on the Cultural Development Committee, says the two groups decided the mural of a skier and mountain biker is actually a sign because it contains the store’s name and website address.
“It’s obviously a promotional piece, it’s not a piece of art,” she says. “But it doesn’t meet any of the sign guidelines, so it can’t be a sign. So how do you turn what appears to be a sign into a mural?”
The commissions are asking the store to remove all “advertising aspects” from the mural — requiring Boomtown to paint over two pillars flanking the mural where the store’s name is painted. The store’s web address, painted at the very centre of the mural, must also be axed.
The two groups are also asking the store to redesign the rest of its signage “for consistency and to improve the holistic appearance of the building.”
City council still has to sign off on the decision, and Macdonald says it’s not clear exactly how the edict will be enforced once they do.
“I hope that they will cooperate,” she added. “We appreciate the mural and think that it’s a nice addition, and it can coexist in our heritage downtown, but it cannot be a sign. So we hope they’ll cooperate with us.”