Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Arts and letters

Some artist in Michigan is going to jail.
Roseville muralist Ed (Gonzo) Stross’ case is expected to go before the Michigan Court of Appeals today.

Stross is fighting a 30-day jail sentence for violating a city sign ordinance for exposing Eve’s breast and painting the word "Love" in his variation of Michelangelo’s "Creation of Man" on the outside wall of his art studio.


In 1997, Stross got permission from the city to paint the 1,100-square-foot mural on an outside wall of Gonzo Fine Arts Studio at Gratiot and Utica roads, but with conditions: no letters, no genitalia and regular maintenance of the artwork. The city contends that Eve’s bare breast was prohibited under the agreement.

As Althouse points out he clearly didn't violate his agreement about genitalia. Breasts aren't genitalia. I'd think even a Michigan court could have figured that out. Texas courts figured that out years ago in some old public nudity case.

But the word LOVE is a different story. He might have an argument about that, depending on how stylized his word is. A straightforward rendition of the word is a pretty clearly a collection of letters, but a highly stylized version might not be.

Particularly the word LOVE has a history in the art world of artistic representations. The article didn't show the lettering in their picture of his mural, so I can't tell, but one could show precedent from the art world that a stylized version of the word is art, not letters.

Of course if the name of his studio is "Love" or if he has an art show coming up called "Love" that argument is more likely to fall flat.


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