RUSH CITY, Minn. -- A mural with a message of inclusion is getting pushback from city leaders in a northern Minnesota town. The mural is on the side of a hair salon on the main street in Rush City, about an hour north of the Twin Cities.
"We wanted to make sure that people who are normally not represented, are represented, especially in rural areas like this because they might not normally see this," said Erin Oare, the owner of Hairdo or Dye.
Oare hired a local artist to paint the mural on the side of her salon last week.
A building that she owns, with a message that she wants to send.
"We really just wanted to send a message of inclusivity and coming together," said Oare.
Officials with Rush City sent a zoning violation notification to Oare explaining that this mural is violating the city charter because there's no mural ordinance in place right now. The city code says, "Whenever in a zoning district if a use neither specifically permitted nor denied, the use should be considered prohibited."
The city told Oare she has 10 days to take the mural down.
"We do not plan on painting over it within 10 days like they're saying we need to do," said Oare, "We're hoping that the violation will be rescinded before then."
Residents and business owners in Rush City are paying attention to what is happening between the city and Oare, so far, the majority of the opinions about the mural have been positive.
"The mural is beautiful," said Pam Hagen, who owns a boutique down the block from the mural. She welcomes the new artwork.
"I don't know why a friendly expression of diversity, beautifully handed painted, would have to come down," said Hagen.
Rush City is a small, farming town, where diversity is sparser, but Hagen believes it's something their town should embrace.
"I'm sure it'll be very controversial, we're a very divided country at this point, but for me, it's representative that we need to include all people," said Hagen.
"This shouldn't be political," said Oare, "It is just everybody coming together."
Following all the attention to this controversy, on Tuesday afternoon, the Mayor of Rush City sent a statement to WCCO regarding the future of the mural and the city code:
The City recently notified the property owners of Hairdo or Dye that the mural that was recently painted on their west wall was a violation of our City Code. Per our interpretation of the Code, anything that is not explicitly permitted is considered prohibited. Clearly, this piece of art has sparked an important conversation in our community and provides an opportunity for us to address the deficiency in the Code.
As the Mayor of Rush City, I'm going to ask our City Council to have an open conversation about how we can clarify and address shortcomings with the Code.
At a personal level, I believe the mural is a well-done piece of artwork and deserves more positive attention.
- Mayor Dan Dahlberg
Oare is throwing a support party to save the mural this Saturday at the salon at 12 p.m.
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