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Artist sues to protect mural on Detroit building

Artist sues to protect mural on Detroit building
Artist sues to protect mural on Detroit building
Artist sues to protect mural on Detroit building
Artist sues to protect mural on Detroit building
Posted at 4:17 PM, Jan 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-06 19:20:15-05

It's colorful and eye-catching. But now, the future of The Illuminated Mural is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the artist who created it.

Katherine Craig used more than 100 gallons of paint to create the mural on the side of the nine-story building on East Grand Boulevard. "Flowing watercolor of multicolored paint splatters" is how the artist described the 110-foot-by-125 foot mural.

On Wednesday, Chuck Schumacher and his wife stopped by to view the unique work of art.

"The pictures on line don't do it justice," Schumacher said as he looked up at the mural. "It's more impressive coming out and looking at it."

It was the news of the lawsuit that prompted the couple's visit.  Princeton Enterprises, LLC of Bloomfield Hills purchased the building last January and controls the fate of the mural.

According to the the federal complaint field on Tuesday, "Princeton has considered redeveloping the property into apartments, condominiums, or office space, and has threatened to destroy or mutilate the mural (by, for example, punching holes in the face to make windows)."

Craig was granted copyright protection for the mural in 2012. She also argues Princeton is threatening her rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990.

In the complaint, she asks that the building owner be barred "from taking any action to alter, deface, modify, mutilate or destroy The Illuminated Mural, and requiring them to disclose the legal status of the mural to all potential buyers," of the building.

"That's a tough one when considering the property owner rights and the rights of the community," Schumacher said. "That's going to be a tough one for a judge somewhere." 

M-1 rail is driving real estate investment decisions and redevelopment activity in Detroit's North End, where the building is located.

Andrew Smith, Corporate Counsel for Princeton Enterprises, provided this statement to Action News Wednesday:

"We are still gathering information.  We disagree, however, with Ms. Craig’s characterization of the facts and the law.  We are committed to the revitalization of Detroit and to working within our legal rights to help that process move forward."