I am on the Ashland Main Street Design Committee in Ashland, Virginia, and we are in the midst of establishing a public art policy. To that end, I will be exploring this "art vs sign" issue in more depth.
Here is a great example of a small town, Charlottesville, VA that faced precisely this issue in 2010
A group of students created a mural depicting cameras on the side of a camera shop. The city threatened a fine of $5000 if Richmond Camera did not take the mural down.
While community response has been positive, says Martin, the city was less than pleased with the unexpected artistic addition. According to city spokesperson Ric Barrick, that's because the store already had four signs– two more than is allowed on an entrance corridor– and did not seek permission from the planning commission before painting the mural.
So... the fine was threatened because the mural was interpreted as a sign.
It seems that the city reversed its decision:
What I find curious is the reason the decision was reversed. From the NBC29 story:
|Sign or Mural?|