Fresno artist advocates for more public art funding after his mural is painted over


As a new business makes progress in Fresno’s Tower District, residents there claim its owners are erasing the area’s culture. Particularly after well-liked mural in the neighborhood is painted over.

“It was more just shock, I think, than anything else,” is what Tower resident Tim Crimmins said when asked what he thought about his discovery. On Wednesday night, he saw black paint covering a mural on the wall of the building that housed the bar and lounge The Landmark.

By Friday evening, a grey square was painted specifically where the mural was. Although you could still see some of the mural’s details through the paint.

Crimmins quickly posted the mural’s loss on Facebook and many other Tower residents agreed: this was a hit on the area’s culture.

“I know it’s not the Mona Lisa or the Last Supper, but just as much inspiration, sweat and effort went into putting this up,” Crimmins said.

The building was bought in 2016 and since then it’s slowly being turned into Splash, an LGBT bar and lounge whose owners own a number of bars in the Sacramento and Bay Area.

In a statement on the Splash Fresno Facebook page, the owners said the decision to paint over the mural came after getting the blessing of the seven member Tower District Design Review Committee — citing the paint was in disrepair.

Annalisa Perea, a member of the committee, confirmed the owners have met with the committee at least three times the past few years.

Many say murals are what helps define the Tower’s charm, including the mural’s artist, Josh Wigger. Wigger said he spoke with the owners a year and a half ago about this — even saying he could paint a new mural on the building.

Wigger is up for it, depending if he’d get financial support to do so.

“It’s been a long time since a real deal mural went up in the Tower District,” he said.

Perea said there aren’t any guidelines for the committee to follow on retaining murals. On the blowup this has all caused, Wigger said this all shows Fresno wants public art — but the city still needs to figure out how to foster it.

“If there was a place to be able to say, hey, we have money allocated to do murals on Tower District, the Mural District, north side, west side, or east side — it’d be great,” Wigger said.

To create a new mural, Wigger said it would likely take a month to do and would need $6,000. He also said he has ideas already.

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