In a blow to the local arts community, a district court judge has sided with the City’s Historic Preservation Commission in the battle over the mural painted on the front of the popular Tsunami restaurant on West Street.
The owners, Gavin Buckley and Jody Danek painted the mural two years ago after receiving a citation from the Historic Preservation Commission for peeling paint on the facade. The pair commissioned internationally recognized artist Jeff Huntington to paint the mural on the first First Sunday Arts Festival of 2015.
While the City has stated that they do not regulate paint, the Historic Preservation Commission (a volunteer commission headed by Sharon Kennedy, the wife of Ward 1 Alderman Joe Budge) and the City’s Chief of Historic Preservation said that the mural changed the character of the building. The building at 51 West Street has no historical significance that has been noted. The City asked that Buckley and Danek retroactively apply for a permit for the mural.
The permit may actually be approved; or it may not. There was no indication which way the decision might fall. But, rather than apply for the permit, the pair decided to fight it. Their position was that the mural was simply paint–something the Commission has said they do not regulate; and that by applying for it woudl open the floodgates for the Commission to become the arbiter of all public art.
At this time, Danek and Buckley are weighing their options and have not decided if they will appeal the court’s ruling.
The Capital has a video of Buckley’s reaction to today’s ruling.
Buckley, a Democrat, is running for Mayor of Annapolis and faces a primary opponent in State Senator, John Astle.