That’s how the mural on the north-facing wall of the business building at 35th/Henderson looked when we reported on it in July. Here’s how it looks now:
Part of it has been painted over, while part of it has been altered. This all has its roots in a dispute between neighbors – the Birdhouse coffee shop, which commissioned the mural, and CoCo and Co. salon, which has added to, and painted over, part of it. We’ve talked with both in the last several hours, after Birdhouse contacted us today about the situation, followed by tips/questions from multiple readers.
If you’re not familiar with the building, note that the Henderson-facing wall with the mural is alongside the salon, which faces 35th, while Birdhouse faces Henderson, west of the section of the building that holds the mural. Here’s a wider perspective, from Google Maps Street View:
Both businesses are tenants. Both said the coffee shop had talked with the salon and with the building’s owner before the mural project – which the Birdhouse called its “love letter to the neighborhood” – and no objections were raised by the salon until after it was painted in July. The dispute has simmered over the ensuing three months. The salon says the mural’s prominent feature of birds, among other things, gave the impression that the coffee shop was the sole tenant. In an email to the Birdhouse and the building owner three weeks ago, the salon wrote that “we continue to have customers believe we have moved, closed or downsized, which is unacceptable to us.” So the salon offered, in that email, what they called a compromise, saying the mural could stay if some elements were removed, including “the two (2) black colored birds, the coffee cup, the color red (sun/moon?) and the name ‘fre-mann’ from van license plate.” (That’s the Birdhouse owners’ company name.)
The coffee shop did not respond; they told us the building owners advised them not to. The salon provided an email from the building owners, dated mid-August, suggesting the two parties should work it out – “we cannot decide for either of you.” The salon set a deadline of last Thursday for a response, saying otherwise it would repaint the wall. Still no response, so the salon made some changes to the mural earlier this week: “Our intention in updating the mural was to add inclusivity and remove specific branding. (We added) BLM. RGB. Rainbow feathers so the bird was no longer the Birdhouse logo. Trans symbols. First responders.”
After that, the salon says, they were threatened, and their security cameras were broken. A police report was filed. They blame the coffee shop, which told us they take responsibility for the cameras. As a result of that, the salon then decided “the mural was not worth dealing with” and started painting over part of it today. The Birdhouse filed a police report about that.
So what now? The salon says, “We will work on a solution to the current situation.” As of a phone conversation this evening, the coffee shop had no next steps planned.
–Tracy Record, WSB editor