Designer backs out of Open Space mural

Wall mural planned for Traverse City Open Space

A Colorado-based designer has dropped out of a controversial project to bring a mural to the Open Space in Traverse City.

Jason Graves, with So-Gnar Creative, was slated to paint the colorful mural on the walls facing Grand Traverse Bay next month.

According to Traverse City Arts Commission Chair Christie Minervini, Graves was harassed by several opponents of the project over the phone. Minervini says they called, emailed and left negative reviews on his web site.

She says he feared for his reputation and livelihood.

"We pride ourselves on creating public art that is modern, exciting and new. Art that makes a positive impact and help further progression of public art," wrote Graves in an email Wednesday. Unfortunately I no longer believe that this project location will enable that to happen."

Graves told Minervini he had been under the impression that the community wanted the mural, but after all the negative response, he could see that wasn't exactly the case.

The mural project has been in the works since last summer, but residents began to voice their concerns over social media last week.

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