Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hailey P&Z approves public mural project

Artist Tom Teitge’s design raises a few eyebrows

Express Staff Writer

This drawing by Tom Teitge could be painted in full color on a 12-by-16-foot section of the PM Brown Building on River Street in Hailey. The Hailey Arts Commission hopes Teitge’s mural will lead to a series of public murals in the city.

The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission gave a nod to artist Tom Teitge's mural design for a cinder-block wall on River Street on Monday night, despite one commissioner's comment that the painting could arouse more than just artistic delight.

"I'm no art critic, but some may find it sexually provocative," said Commissioner Geoffrey Moore, who nevertheless joined the rest of the commission in a unanimous vote to recommend that Teitge be allowed to proceed with the mural.

Teitge's drawing depicts a shapely woman wielding a sledgehammer on an anvil in an effort to "beat swords into plowshares." The painting, if it is completed, will provide a visual allusion to a quote from the Book of Isaiah in which the prophet anticipates the coming of the Christian messiah:

"They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."

But first the mural design will have to pass muster at the Hailey City Council.


Teitge's proposed canvas is a 12-by-16-foot portion of the south-facing cinder-block wall of the PM Brown Building at 221 River St. in Hailey. He has painted many murals in the Northwest, including one on a wall in downtown Hailey that was destroyed when actor Bruce Willis built the E.G. Willis Building 15 years ago. One of Teitge's paintings hangs in the Hailey City Council chambers where Monday's meeting took place.

Hailey Planning Director Beth Robrahn said Teitge's plan presented a conundrum to the Planning Department because there were no design review guidelines for such an art project.

"It is a unique situation," Robrahn said.

She said she sent letters to residents living within 300 yards of the proposed painting to gather opinions on the proposed mural, but received no responses.

P&Z Commissioner Mark Johnstone, who also sits on the Hailey Arts Commission, has been working with the Planning Department and City Council to establish guidelines for public art projects in the city.

"There could be a whole series of murals on River Street," Johnstone said.

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