Legal: “Town Tells Donut Shop That Mural Painted By Local High Schoolers Is Illegal, Threatens Fines”

Legal: “Town Tells Donut Shop That Mural Painted By Local High Schoolers Is Illegal, Threatens Fines”

Photo: Institute for Justice

“High school students worked for weeks on an art project for a beloved local bakery in Conway, New Hampshire. When their mural of a sun rising over a mountainscape of assorted pastries was unveiled, it was reported by the local newspaper and widely praised. But there was someone in town who saw things differently: the local code enforcer.

What he saw was an ‘illegal’ sign that needed to be torn down or painted over. That’s because, according to the town, if a mural depicts anything related to what a business does, it is a sign and subject to strict regulations. For instance, if the exact same mural were painted on a tire shop across town, or even at the farm stand thirty feet away from the bakery, it would be legal.

Leavitt’s Country Bakery is an institution in Conway. For 45 years it has been admired for its baked treats, even being named the “Best Doughnuts in New Hampshire” by a state television station last year. Sean Young had been a loyal customer for years. When the original owners decided to sell, most potential buyers had a different vision for the property. But Sean wanted to keep the bakery’s legacy going and purchased it in 2021…

The code enforcer’s warning came as a complete shock and Sean first thought that the town might grant an exemption. Despite overwhelming support for the students’ artwork, the town refused to grant an exemption and said that daily fines of $275 would start in February. The town also reiterated that the mural would be completely legal if Sean moved it from the bakery to a nearby farmstand…

Fortunately for Sean, there is relatively recent support in the federal courts for his new lawsuit. The Lonesome Dove saloon in Mandan, North Dakota, was ordered to remove a mural because it included the name of the business in the art work. After the owners sued with Institute for Justice, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against the city, finding that a ban on commercial murals was “unlikely to survive constitutional muster.”

As Conway’s zoning board was considering whether to find the mural illegal, one of the members opined that it would be a great civics lesson for the students to have to seek permission from the government for their art. Now Sean intends to teach the town a civics lesson about freedom of expression. Speaking at a press conference announcing the new lawsuit he said, ‘I’m here to stand up for artists everywhere … The First Amendment is the cornerstone of American democracy.’…

Sean received some good news shortly after announcing the suit. Conway agreed not to try to fine him while the lawsuit is going on. It’s a small victory, preserving the students’ art in place for at least a little longer.”

– Andrew Wimer, Forbes

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SIGN really for airplanes and pedestrian safety? Controversial “art mural” in DeFuniak Springs

SIGN really for airplanes and pedestrian safety? Controversial “art mural” in DeFuniak Springs

Photo: Flickr JR P as seen in Only in Your State Florida

“DeFuniak Springs officials say they want the city to be a destination spot for tourists. One way of doing this is by promoting the arts.

‘It’s been a bit of a collaborative effort between Main Street and the city, and also with the Tree and Beautification Board,’ said City Beautification & Tree Board Chair Kim Wennerberg. ‘We’re all trying to work together to make downtown more interesting and more of a destination…’

However, one street painting in particular continues to be controversial.

The project was intended to be more than art, though. City officials said this street mural was part of a safety project, intended to slow drivers down.

It has caused controversy because many say they don’t like it.

Wennerberg said the city had the board conduct a survey on the street painting. More than 750 people participated in the survey. Wennerberg said the majority of the reactions have been negative.

‘Even the mural here, I know there’s been a lot of opposition about it in whether they like it or not, but, you know, if you go overhead and with a lot of people flying over, they know where DeFuniak is,’ said local Greg Brack.

The future of the street painting remains unclear.”

— Marissa Roman, Only in Your State Florida

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“New Smyrna Beach officials look to regulate murals, wall art – Mayor Russ Owens pulls item from agenda”

“New Smyrna Beach officials look to regulate murals, wall art – Mayor Russ Owens pulls item from agenda”

Photo: Click Orlando

“Walking down New Smyrna Beach’s main strips, you’ll see large, bright-colored murals on almost every block, but city leaders are looking to put some regulations on murals and wall art around the city.

The city commission was slated to discuss a proposed ordinance at its meeting Tuesday evening, but Mayor Russ Owens pulled the item from the agenda. It’s not known when the topic will be next be discussed.

There currently are no regulations in place in the city, but local artists and business owners are concerned about the drafted ordinance.

‘It’s such a talking point. People love to see them, they love to take pictures in front of them,’ said Missy McCormick, owner of Swanky Salon…

According to the drafted ordinance going to the commission for a first reading Tuesday, it would have to go. The proposal would limit the size, where they can be on the building, and they would not be allowed to include words, arrows, or lights…

Owens said the city has studied other Central Florida cities, like DeLand, adding that the point is to create some limitations to make sure the work does not create controversy.

‘This is a difficult conversation we have to have as a community, and I would rather have it proactively versus reactively when we have something that is dividing the community,’ he said…”

— Molly Reed, Click Orlando

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“Stroll Through a 3D World at the International Chalk Festival”

“Stroll Through a 3D World at the International Chalk Festival”

Photo: Courtesy Photo in Sarasota Magazine

“The International Chalk Festival has been taking place in Sarasota and Venice since 2007. Thousands of people come every year to experience 3D chalk designs by more than 100 international and local artists. This year, the festival’s theme is resilience.

Prior to the pandemic, Mexican muralist Carlos Alberto traveled the world sharing his paint and chalk murals at festivals. He attended Sarasota’s 2019 festival and will return this year, sharing his optical illusion drawings, which use the floor and walls to produce immersive work.

‘I’ve been painting all my life and moved into chalk as a medium recently,’ says Alberto. ‘One of the reasons I love working with chalk is you can create ephemeral pieces that people can enjoy during the creative process. They can be done quickly; you do not have to wait for each layer to dry.’

Alberto says the fact chalk can be erased easily with water is part of the medium’s charm. It can be appreciated during its execution, in the same way we experience live concerts, dance performances and plays. It survives as a memory in spectators’ minds…

This year, the festival will take place at the Venice Municipal Airport from Friday, April 1, to Sunday, April 3.”

For more information, a list of artists and to purchase tickets AND additional Sarasota location/details on the Sarasota “Chalk it up event”, visit

— Allison Forsyth, Sarasota Magazine

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Graffiti Vs. Art

Graffiti Vs. Art

Photo: WFTS

“An average of 250,000 people bike, walk or jog the Pinellas Trail every month. However, those in charge of the 70-mile-path say they want it to be more than just a place of exercise but an overall cultural experience.

So they are giving cyclists a reason to pump the brakes and take a picture along the Pinellas Trail this week.

‘Its like a stamp of approval from the community saying that my work is valuable and that I’m an asset and that’s nice, I love it,’ said artist Yhali Ilan.

Ilan said it was an honor to be one of four local artists chosen to paint two overpasses along the trail, one in Palm Harbor and the other in Tarpon Springs. Each one has a different Florida theme…

‘Our parks department will go and paint over in plain gray paint and the next day they’ll come back and they’ll be graffiti on the tunnels,’ said Alexis Ferguson with Pinellas County Public Works.

Ferguson is not only a public works employee but she rides the trail all the time. She said it’s been proven these murals detract from crime.

‘There is a respect among graffiti artists and our local artists here painting murals that they don’t tag the art murals and that’s been seen throughout the county,’said Ferguson…

The plan is to continue to add more art to the trail every year.”

— Robert Boyd, WFTS

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“Florida wildflower mural covers up graffiti on wall of downtown Crestview bakery café”

“Florida wildflower mural covers up graffiti on wall of downtown Crestview bakery café”

Photo: Christina Donahon
“In Crestview’s historic downtown distract, native Floridian wildflowers are sprouting on the side of a popular bakery café.

The mural on Back Home Bakery Café’s rear side wall is a collaborative effort between building owner Kimberley Howard, bakery owner (and Kimberley’s mom) Dorene Howard, local State Farm Insurance agent Tiffany Woodham, and muralist Christina Donahon.

Inspiration for the mural began when Police Chief Stephen McCosker, City Manager Tim Bolduc and Community Development Services staff began the current ongoing effort to address blight, including graffiti, a scourge that had hit the Bake Home Bakery rear side wall.

‘It started with graffiti we had to cover up,’ Dorene Howard said. ‘Tiffany came to us awhile back and asked if she could help.’

‘I felt we should do a downtown beautification project of some sort,’ Woodham said. ‘I want to help make downtown pretty. Kimberley and I met and we discussed what the design should be and Florida wildflowers came up. We wanted to do something that people would like and would want to take their pictures in front of…’

While the Howards painted out the graffiti, Woodham, who funded the project, engaged Donahon’s talents to realize their concept of a Florida wildflowers motif…

‘We wanted to do something to help beautify Crestview,’ Dorene Howard said. ‘We’re doing our part to make Crestview look good.'”

— Brian Hughes, City of Crestview in

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