Detroit artist suing to protect mural from being destroyed

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Detroit artist Katherine Craig has filed a lawsuit to try to keep a building mural that is being called her “signature achievement” from being destroyed during any redevelopment.

Local 4 obtained a copy of the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Click here to read the complaint

Known as “The Illuminated Mural,” the 100-by-125-foot artwork has been visible down one side of a building at 2937 E. Grand Boulevard since Craig received a grant to create it in 2009.

The lawsuit describes it as a “flowing watercolor of multicolored paint splatters.”

The building has changed hands several times since Craig signed a deal with then-building owner Boydell Development Corp., which agreed that the mural would remain there for no fewer than 10 years, according to the lawsuit.

Princeton Enterprises, which has corporate offices in Bloomfield Hills, purchased the building in January 2015 for and has considered redeveloping the property into apartments, condominiums, or office space.

The lawsuit says Princeton Enterprises has “threatened to destroy or mutilate the mural (by,
for example, punching holes in the face to make windows).”

Craig said she’s being offered “little more than a token sum in exchange for her legal rights to an artwork.”

“The work has become one of her best known pieces, and she continues to receive commissions and other opportunities based on the stature of the mural in Detroit’s arts community. She has a vested interest in ensuring the protection and survival of this significant piece,” the lawsuit says.

She is asking for an injunction against Princeton Enterprises under the Visual Artist Rights Act of 1990, which extends to visual artists the legal protection of their moral rights of attribution and integrity.

Craig also wants Princeton Enterprises to be ordered to disclose the legal status of the mural to all potential buyers.