Updated, 9:11 a.m.: Corrected location of mural on 21 Isaac Street. 8:34 a.m.: Copy edits
NORWALK, Conn. – Jason Milligan’s Wall Street-area murals are once again visible to the public, he said Monday.
Milligan had the Tyvek removed from his Isaac Street mural and the business names painted over, he said. The Mill Hill mural at 97 Wall St. and the seemingly-political mural on the Isaac Street dead end have also been uncovered.
The murals were uncovered after Milligan received clearance from Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin, in a series of emails provided to NancyOnNorwalk by Milligan.
On Monday, Kleppin wrote to Milligan:
“We are working with the Arts Commission to amend the regulations regarding murals. Since that is under consideration we will not pursue any additional enforcement actions on any of the murals at this time. This does not mean the properties are not in violation. Since the Arts Commission has requested that no actions be taken and are willing to work with staff and the Zoning Commission we are simply not pursuing enforcement at this time. However, any reference to your business needs to be removed or covered, on any of your murals, since that is advertising. We will look at the other murals as well to see if that is an issue on them too. In addition, any additional murals put up prior to any change in regulations must comply with the current rules.”
This controversy dates back to early October, when Milligan had a mural painted at 21 Isaac St. and former Zoning Commission Chairwoman Jackie Lightfield filed a complaint on it, pointing out that the Zoning regulations prohibit business names within murals as they are classified as signage. A second mural was being painted on the side of 97 Wall St. when Milligan received the citation on the Isaac St, mural. The Isaac Street dead end mural, which includes a figure that strongly resembles Mayor Harry Rilling, went up a few days later.
Milligan said he commissioned all three murals at once. The Wall Street mural has been holding up one of Milligan’s tenants, as “Mr. Mango” would be prohibited from getting his final clearance to open at 91 Wall St., until that Zoning violation is cured.
Mr. Mango can proceed, Kleppin wrote to Milligan, pending a date on when the business advertising will be removed from the mural at 21 Isaac.
“I have asked the artist to alter or remove any reference to any local/viable businesses,” Milligan wrote to Kleppin. “The buildings in that mural would look funny with nothing on them. Some of them have fictitious business names like Coutlandt Homes and Freedom Dental. Any actual business names will be changed or removed hopefully within the next week and maybe as soon as over night.”
Milligan told Kleppin that he’s considering changing the “character that some people (think) resembles Harry Rilling so that it no longer resembles him.”
The controversy spread when Milligan filed complaints on other murals, at O’Neill’s pub, Valencia restaurant and the Post Road Diner. The Arts Commission got involved, and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CMM) was being consulted, Kleppin said last week. A petition asking to “Save the Public Wall Art on Wall Street” had 890 signatures on it early Tuesday.
“I really appreciate that Steve Kleppin was thoughtful about this,” Milligan said to NancyOnNorwalk. “I am extremely willing to adhere to the new rules they come up with. I am happy that they put a ‘pause,’ I am willing to work with them. I did not know there were mural rules when I commissioned them. I did not. I am happy to see they are going to update the rules.”