[UPDATED: New Mural in Works] Laguna Beach Winery Owner Paints Over Landmark Mural, Claiming He Didn't Know It Was a Public Work of Art

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Mia Tavonatti
​UPDATE, APRIL 18, 5:03 P.M.: Mural painter-overer Marlowe Huber wants to help repair the damage, offering a monetary contribution towards the mural's restoration and organizing fundraisers to launch a new mural, according to Laguna Beach Patch.

He told the media outlet that that his reason for removing the mural was to clean up the space so that the city might approve a sign that advertised the winery. Laguna College of Art and Design president Dennis Power has also received an offer from the winery's property owner, Steve Henry, to help with the new mural project, planned for next winter. Power called the mural paint-over a "regrettable mistake."

lagunamural.jpg
Mia Tavonatti
ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 8 1:32 P.M.: A vibrant mural that served as a landmark work of art on Laguna Canyon Road is now a dull gray wall after a paint job by a winery owner who apparently didn't want it adorning his business.  

The piece, an 82-foot-long bold-colored landscape featuring a bear, an eagle and an adult and child holding hands, was designed and painted in 2003 by students of Laguna College of Art & Design. 

Mia Tavonatti, the school's mural instructor who oversaw its creation, was shocked when she heard it was gone.

"I'm disheartened," she says. "I think that's the best word to describe it. I don't see the sense of it--to blatantly and knowingly do something like this. It's criminal."

The mural, which Tavonatti says was the largest in Orange County when it went up, graced the side wall of Laguna Canyon Winery, a tenant in a building owned by Steve Henry. According to the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot, the tenants had applied to put signage on the wall, but the application had been denied due to the wall's status as a public work of art, protected by the city. City cultural arts manager Siân Poeschl first noticed the mural was gone at the end of February. Henry was surprised, as the lease agreement made it clear that the mural was public property, the Coastline Pilot reports.   
  
Marlowe Huber, co-owner of the winery, admitted to the Coastline Pilot that he painted over the mural, and that it was a misunderstanding. He's meeting with the school to devise a plan for another mural, the newspaper reports. Huber could not be immediately reached by the Weekly.   

Tavonatti does not believe it was a misunderstanding. 

"As artists, we have the right to sue, but that's a major endeavor and that's not what my mindset is," she told the Weekly. "But I would like to see something done. A lot of these small businesses in Laguna wouldn't exist if it weren't for the art. It is the economy of Laguna Beach. He had a huge mural on his wall. He could have taken advantage of that. I don't get it." 

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