Columbiana Mayor: Mural controversy is misunderstanding

This mural, painted on the side of Art and Soul on Main in Columbiana, has been the subject of talk during a Columbiana City Council meeting to begin regulating artwork downtown. Mayor Bryan Blakeman said the mural will not be taken down, however.
This mural, painted on the side of Art and Soul on Main in Columbiana, has been the subject of talk during a Columbiana City Council meeting to begin regulating artwork downtown. Mayor Bryan Blakeman said the mural will not be taken down, however.


COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Kimberly Starr owns Art and Soul on Main, an art and retail store in Columbiana. On the side of her building, she has a large mural that she says has stirred up quite a bit controversy in the city.

Starr said she is nervous about what could happen to her art work — a colorful mosaic with a woman wearing sunglasses that stretches the entirety of the brick wall. That was the topic of conversation at a Columbiana City Council meeting on Tuesday night, although Mayor Bryan Blakeman said the conversation was premature.

Blakeman said the “controversy” began when someone made a Facebook comment saying the city wanted to ban murals on buildings. He said that is not the case.

“I don’t want to ban them,” he said. “I do believe that we need, from a Planning Commission standpoint, to have some input on what’s going where. Something of that size and that gravity is what cities become known for.”

As of now, there are no regulations on murals. Anybody can paint whatever they would like, and that is something that the mayor would like to change.

“I don’t think, personally, that it should be left individually to every shop owner on Main Street to put something up that they want. I think it should come before a planning commission,” he said.

Starr owns the building that the mural is painted on. She said she heard rumors that it would be taken down.

“I was concerned. I was very concerned,” she said. “I took it that the town was talking and maybe not so nice about it.”

Blakeman said there has been talk, but not about Starr’s mural in particular.

“It was supposed to start at the Planning Commission meeting, and it skipped that and went straight to here without any of us requesting it,” Blakeman said.

He emphasized that he just wants more regulation for future murals and doesn’t plan on taking Starr’s mural down.

“It’s her building. She painted it, and there’s nothing that told her she couldn’t,” he said.

Starr said she is relieved.

“In a sense, I feel a lot more comforted knowing that this will continue to be a discussion, but this is not targeted at me personally,” she said.

Blakeman said the mural regulation will now go to the Planning Commission, which will review it to decide if it will go to council. The Planning Commission is not scheduled to address the issue until the beginning of next year.

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