Jackson Ward homeowner told to remove mural from side of house

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 12:24 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 2:47 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In a neighborhood already rife with graffiti, one mural is now catching the attention of Richmond City Hall. Joshua Shaheen owns the home where the mural is on Monroe Street in Jackson Ward.

“It brings some color, some life, to again this dingy alleyway. It covers up the prior graffiti,” said Shaheen.

In November, he allowed a Swiss artist known as “BustArt” to transform what was on the side of the home into a life-size piece of art.

“I would love that it stays up. I create those walls around the world mostly out of my own pockets with one goal, and that is leave something behind for the people, for the neighborhood who live there,” said “BustArt,” a Swiss muralist.

The city says that because Shaheen lives in a historic district, he needed proper approvals and didn’t do that. Shaheen, who moved in last year, says he didn’t know.

“Putting the mural up wasn’t in direct defiance of, you know, any kind of rules or laws in regards to the historical status of the neighborhood or the home. But just to abate further graffiti, cover up the existing graffiti, and just bring some life to the alleyway,” said Shaheen.

Shaheen took his case to the city’s architectural review commission last month. But the group wants the homeowner to figure out how to get the paint off in the next 30 days.

That could include power washing it off or painting the bricks red. Shaheen says he will appeal that decision.

“Beautifying these alleyways is something that should be happening across the city. And when we get an opportunity like this, we should invest in the arts community rather than trying to take it down,” said Ian Chess, a neighbor and SUPPLY art store owner.

Meanwhile, a “Save the Richmond BustArt Mural” online petition has already garnered hundreds of signatures. You can find more information about the petition here.

“I don’t think it’s worth it. I think it’s easier to not do anything. You just have to not do anything, just leave it up, let it be beautiful,” said Chess.

On Friday night, Shaheen and others will rally during the First Fridays’ art celebration. They will place spotlights on the mural, hoping to get more support.