'Wonderland' mural a nightmare for owner

May 20, 2007 at 8:25 PM
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo., May 20 (UPI) -- The decision by a smoking supply store owner to place an "Alice in Wonderland" mural on the side of his Colorado business has become a living nightmare.

Ever since Mike Mahaney had two murals created, including one of the hookah-smoking caterpillar from the classic Lewis Carroll story, the Englewood businessman has been besieged by complaints, the Rocky Mountain News said Sunday.

City officials deemed the murals too large and neighbors complained they promoted drug use.

While Mahaney was given two weeks to remove the offensive paintings, the store owner said Friday he will fight to keep his artwork.

He said the murals -- the other is one of the late rock musicians Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix who both had reputations for serious drug abuse -- are innocent works of art.

But city officials said it is the size of the murals that violates a city ordinance regarding a locale's street frontage, not any questions about characters they contain.

"It doesn't make any difference what he painted," Deputy City Manager Mike Flaherty told the newspaper. "He could have painted a 10-foot 'Mona Lisa.' It would have been just as illegal."

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