Imagine my surprise to read of another artist with my name and in the same week about a Spencer mural. This is some interesting artistic coincidence.
The first alert had the headline, “Ashley Jackson’s paintings feature as murals at Wakefiled Kirkgate Station underpass,” via the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. This is my full maiden name but happens to be profiling a male British artist who paints lovely murals and watercolors at age 75.
Coincidentally, my parents named all their children, including all the sisters, with English male first names, which helped to make our pretty common last name, Jackson, stand out.
The second coincidence regards the Spencer mural in Spencer, Iowa. It’s actually a proposed mural by Myles and Amanda Musser, owners of Salon M Spa.
They were smart to go to the City Council prior to painting. There have been plenty of businesses in other cities where murals have unfortunately been painted over because they violated the city’s sign ordinance. As lovely as this murals is, it sadly has been put on the back burner because it’s an issue that Spencer town officials are reluctant to address. Here’s a synopsis with some of the quotes from the Daily Reporter:
Currently, city ordinances limit a building’s commercial signage to 20 percent of any exterior wall. In addition, if murals were deemed to be art, they would not be allowed to be used for advertising, as they would generally exceed the allotted 20 percent…
In order for the mural to be “less distracting to traffic and so forth,” Don Hemphill, the City Attorney drafted an amendment to the ordinance which states:
…defined murals as signs and specified several regulations the murals would be subject to, such as limiting text in the mural to 3 percent of the composition and a limit of one mural per wall face. The draft allows murals an exemption from a portion of the sign ordinance that requires a licensed sign erector to install the signage. In addition, murals would be limited to walls that do not face a street…
The Salon’s mural would face the alley.
Hemphill went on to clarify, “We have a provision in our ordinance that prohibits obscene signs, to the extent that those can be defined. That would still apply here…” and “…We don’t regulate content. So this could result in a mural that you would think is just horrible but, as long as it’s not obscene or somehow distracts from the traffic, it’s going to be permitted,”
The City Engineer Jim Thiesse mentioned:
Everybody here is like-minded and the people that are proposing the mural are like-minded,” Thiesse said, referring to the original request by the Mussers. “They’re going to put something out there that’s decent and that’s what you’re addressing and trying to allow.”
However Thiesse went on to say that changing the ordinance would also make it more difficult to remove a mural the public found objectionable. Rather, Thiesse noted that variances for murals could be approved on a case by case basis.
“There’s a lid on the box and you’re going to take the lid off the box. I would just caution you that it seems good when everybody’s thinking alike. The problem with the public is that there can be people out there that think differently and it can be not good.”
The Council also seemed to question, what is advertising, really? There was some interesting philosophical discussion regarding this but:
Ultimately, the commission voted to not forward a recommendation of the current draft on to the Spencer City Council. Hemphill indicated that the commission could potentially conduct a public hearing regarding murals at a later time, as could the City Council.
Hopefully the mural will eventually get painted. It says a lot without words!
And here’s an added way to bind these together with all the different uses of the mighty binder clip. This video will make you think differently of this magical tool.