Popular mural wiped out in Fresno's Tower District

FRESNO, Calif.

The Tower District is known for its colorful and vibrant murals along the walls of business but one art piece that became a cultural icon along the side of the Tower Theatre is now a blank canvas.

"But for a white well, to trade a mural for a white wall, that's a loss," said Josh Wigger. Wigger is the artist whose mural was painted over. Five years ago, the city and owner of Palomino's restaurant paid Wigger $700 to create the work of art as part of a beautification project.

"I don't think that anybody really understands exactly what the ramifications were. It was a very innocent mistake," said Bill Kuebler, the director of Tower District's Marketing Committee. He said the property owner of the Theatre - who did not want to go on camera - did not realize the mural's significance when he decided to remove it.

"They quite innocently, frankly, just decided to paint over the wall because the building needs a new paint job and I think that the idea was that we were going to put a new mural up," said Kuebler.

"I think they should have researched it or actually found out who had done it. I mean it's kind of ignorant on their parts to not do that," said Wigger.

The decision came when Palomino's restaurant closed and the theatre was making changes for new tenants. But residents in the area aren't thrilled.

"That's what people come down here for is the authenticity of the history of this neighborhood and now a little piece of, how should I say, it's not that old history but something that should have been history has now been erased," said local resident Betsy Dituri.

Despite the misunderstanding, Wigger said he'd be willing to work with the Tower owner to create another mural that embodies the district's cultural richness.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.