Tube Dudes owner Scott Gerber is so annoyed the Sarasota City Commission plans to send him a letter to request he paint over the controversial “Fast Life” mural that he now has no plans to paint over it.
In November, French artist MTO painted the mural for the Sarasota Chalk Festival with a message that reads: “It’s a Fast Life Let Love Express It.”
Some say the message, however, could also be interpreted as “Fat Lie” if the twisted fingers are used to interpret a gang expression.
A gang expert sent over by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, however, has found no gang signs in the piece, Gerber said.
“I haven’t broken the law,” Gerber said.
Some neighbors and downtown residents have urged for the removal of the mural and Gerber agreed to do so last month, but the mural still sits on his Tube Dudes plant building that sits at the corner of 10th Street and Central Street.
The Sarasota City Commission agreed at its Jan. 17 regular meeting to draw up a letter urging Gerber to paint over a mural that imitates gang sign.
Commissioner Willie Shaw brought the matter up, calling the mural “a great concern for the Central Cocoanut Neighborhood Association.”
“We have to do something,” Shaw said Tuesday. “It has to come down.”
The rest of the commission agreed.
“There’s been a spike in graffiti lately and we’re sending a message it’s okay,” Caragiulo said.
The letter concept, however, has backfired.
Gerber said there’s support for the mural and he’s considering a petition to show how many people want the mural to stay.
“I didn’t remove it because there’s more support for the mural than there is hatred for it,” Gerber said.
Gerber said he and Chalk Festival founder Denis Kowal have plans for more vertical art murals to be painted in the coming weeks in the neighborhood, which will be less controversial because they will be voted on by a panel of city leaders, residents and business owners.
“We have permission to paint eight more buildings in this block,” Gerber said. “This is the first step in a rejuvenation of this neighborhood and I don’t understand why the city wouldn’t want to support it.”
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].