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Plug Pulled on Plans to Light Whaling Wall

March 22, 1997|LESLIE EARNEST

Short-circuiting plans to illuminate the new downtown Whaling Wall, the City Council has rejected a proposal to add fluorescent lights to the mural.

Artist Wyland, who created a new Whaling Wall on the side of his studio after his original work was painted over last year, had hoped to illuminate the mural each evening until 10 p.m.

The City Council unanimously rejected the proposal this week after the Design Review Board had voted against it last month, 3-2.

Councilman Steve Dicterow compared the new mural to a sign and said that if Wyland were allowed to illuminate it, other business people might want to light their signs.

"I certainly feel the Whaling Wall has become something more of a commercial product than an artistic one," Dicterow said. "As soon as we start saying, 'OK, we're going to let this guy illuminate his sign for his place,' then all the businesses are going to want to do that.

"We've tried to be very even-handed with respect to the Whaling Wall issues over the years," he added. "We felt is was important to make a stand here."

Wyland's artwork has been the source of controversy in this community. His original Whaling Wall, painted on property owned by the Hotel Laguna, was the first of dozens he has since painted around the globe.

But Claes Andersen, who operates the hotel, considered the deteriorating wall an eyesore and insisted last year that it be painted over.

Wyland, who bought the property next door to the Hotel Laguna and built a new studio there, decided to create a new tile mural on the side of his own building, above the site where the old one had been.

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