Painting a Controversy: Artists Fight to Save Mural

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CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio--A Chagrin Falls art center is being ordered to erase a mural the village said violates its zoning codes.

"My goal was to create a work of art on the side of the building and that is what I look at it as," said Lissa Bockrath, a Chagrin Falls artist.

Bockrath is one of the artists who painted the mural on the side of the Valley Art Center on Bell Street in Chagrin Falls. The old wall was gray and unpainted.

Last month, village chief administrator Benjamin Himes sent a letter to the art center notifying them that their mural is violating zoning codes, codes which prohibit murals from looking like signs.

According to the letter, “a sign is considered, any visual communication designed to be seen from an outdoor location and used to convey a message."

Members of the Valley Art Center said the wall is a work of art and "not" a sign to promote business.

"The imagery is also inspired by the Chagrin Falls backgrounds so it really does sort of-- it's more in keeping with Chagrin Falls than it was when it was a bleak, sterile wall," said Bockrath.

Some people like what the colorful mural brings to the village.

"I believe it's art and I think it adds to Chagrin Falls, what they've always been about, which is really artsy, kinda like that small-town feel," said Eric Kramer of Highland Heights.

Members of the Valley Art Center said they are not going to lose their mural without a fight. They are meeting  with the Chagrin Falls zoning board on October 22 to see if they can save their wall.