The Rialto Theatre first hired Joe Pagac to put up a mural on the eastside of the theatre in October 2009 for the Calexico concert after last year's All Souls Procession. Since then, Pagac has provided downtown with a visual feast of art that also happens to promote the bands that are going to play at the nonprofit venue.
Well, evidently someone downtown doesn't like art.
The Rialto Theatre was served with a notice of violation by the city of Tucson for having a sign without a permit.
According to Doug Biggers, Rialto's executive director (and former publisher of the Tucson Weekly), considering the murals have been going up consistently since last October, he's amazed that it took a year for someone to decide the concert palace is in violation of city code.
"Why, now, they decide to tell us we are in violation is anyone's guess," Biggers responded by e-mail. "... We have been told that we can put together an appeal and present it to the City's SCAB (Sign Code Advisory Board) and ask for some kind of variance. ... From what I've been told by the city official in charge of the process, it requires quite a bit of effort, and we have our hands full right now just keeping the Rialto's doors open (because of the SB 1070 boycott and economic recession)."
Biggers said he's directed Pagac to paint a "pure mural" rather than paint over the existing concert murals to celebrate the venue's "nine decades of cultural history and the free expression of ideas. He's painting it as I type, and it should be done by Sunday."
"Of course, what we'd love is for the City Council to pass an immediate emergency resolution that the Rialto Theatre's murals are a beloved and creative addition to downtown's aesthetic environment," but Biggers knows from experience that could be a great challenge.
The Range called Glenn Moyer, a planner with the City of Tucson, for comment regarding the violation. We will update if he calls back. The Range was told that someone made a complaint to the city that the murals were in violation of the city code. Of course, we're left wondering what asshat just didn't like those beautiful murals.
And we're also left wondering why Tucson just doesn't seem to ever get it.
The violation notice is here: violation__1_.pdf