ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Early Friday morning, 18 News learned about a mural being covered on Baldwin street across from Libertad Apartment in Elmira.
The building is owned by Lauper Electric. 18 News spoke with Kevin Lauper, the owner of Lauper Electric about the mural being painted over. He said the mural was being vandalized multiple times.
Lauper told 18 News the Community Arts of Elmira paid a contractor to paint over the mural.
Back in May, the mural was created by Bradford Leiby. Leiby worked with Elmira Infinite Canvas to create the mural.
Elmira Infinite Canvas is a public art program of Community Arts of Elmira. The group works with organizations, businesses, and the City of Elmira, along with Second District Councilperson Brent Stermer. EIC is funded by donations, sponsorships, and grants, to allow artists to express their craft and beautify our cities.
According to the Elmira 2nd District Councilman, Brent Stermer, the agreement was to have a mural of just a wolf.
“We paid commission for a wolf and he gave us a different design than the approved piece,” Stermer said. “Any changes to the idea needed to be approved by the organization and he did not tell us about the changes.”
The muralist told 18 News there was talks about a contract regarding agreements between the two but he never received one.
“The Community Arts of Elmira and I had had many different kinds of disputes about what a contract would look like,” Leiby said. “Really it just comes down to, I was promised that there would be a contract for me to look over plenty of times, and there just has never been a contract.”
Leiby told 18 News the mural he painted was a collaborative idea between everyone involved.
“There was some lettering in my original drawing of the wolf but it actually just said, a smell of dot-dot-dot and I called the original drawing a smell of fear,” said Leiby. “We bounced around. I mean it was always entirely up to me and what my idea was, but we did bounce around some other positive messaging ideas before the Black Lives Matter thing became the obvious choice.”
“He violated our agreement and that is why we decided to cover his mural,” Stermer said. “He did what he wanted and vandalized the owner’s business when he created that mural.”
“I wish I was not in the middle of this issue,” Lauper said. “I had nothing to do with the removal.”
In a statement from the Community Arts of Elmira, they said:
“Community Arts of Elmira – Elmira Infinite Canvas condemns the racist, anti-semitic vandalism that compelled the business owner’s decision to cover this mural; however, we thank Lauper Electric for the time this mural was displayed. That said, the program will collaborate with multiple artists, community groups/organizations and the City of Elmira with Second District Councilperson Brent Stermer to create a community built public art mural at another site, one that represents the need for Black Lives Matter social justice, with the support of the program’s funders. To collaborate, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.”
Leiby is currently asking the community if anyone is willing to work with him to create another mural for the community.
“If anyone wants to work with me, please send me an email at email@example.com,” Leiby said. “I always try to stay away from anything that would be considered offensive and I want my messages to be positive.”