Artist suing arts society

Sue Hickey
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This painting on the side of the Botwood Foodland was the first work of art commissioned by the Botwood Mural Arts Society. Artist Michael Young claims he hasn't been fully compensated for his work.

An artist is taking the Botwood Mural Arts Society to court over a contract he claims wasn’t fulfilled.

Michael Young, who lives in St. John’s but is originally from Grand Falls-Windsor, had been commissioned by the society to paint a mural as the first of the arts society’s projects. He has yet to be paid in full for his work, which he completed in August.

“They feel they are able to withhold half of the $10,000 I was promised and agreed to in a signed contract without a legitimate reason,” Young said.

The mural project aims to turn the town into an outdoor art gallery, with giant paintings depicting scenes and significant people from Botwood’s history.

Young painted his mural on the side of the Foodland store. Measuring 15 by 60 feet, it depicts a scene from the Botwood cottage hospital, with Dr. Hugh Twomey as the predominant figure.

He hasn’t been in contact with the arts society for some time, but has sent the group emails, which he said have gone unanswered.

“I will continue whatever efforts I can to recuperate the full fee I was promised,” he said.

“But at this time, I also feel I have a moral obligation to inform any other artists who may be considering entering into a contract with the group. I would not want others to find themselves in the same dilemma.”

He says he will not work with the arts society again.

“I have spoken with several artist friends as well as organizations that funded the (arts society) about my dispute with the group.”

Young said he left Botwood with the understanding that the arts society would send him the rest of his fee. Instead, he received a letter outlin-ing changes it wanted made to the design.

“For example, they wanted me to change the colour of the sky and change all the figures I painted, and the landscape in the background,” he said. “What was weird is that they knew all along what I was painting, and they had a picture of what I was painting and they were there while I was painting it.”

Young has contacted the provincial Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the Department of Canadian Heritage and provincial Tourism Minister Terry French.

The society has engaged well-known Newfoundland artist Lloyd Pretty to paint another mural. Young said he was disappointed to hear that, considering that he hasn’t been paid in full.

When contacted, arts society chairman Mike Shainline declined comment since the matter is before the courts.

The Advertiser

Organizations: Botwood Mural Arts Society, Foodland, Department of Tourism Department of Canadian Heritage

Geographic location: Botwood, Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Mike Shainline
    September 21, 2013 - 23:05

    Time for an update. Lets start with seeing a copy of the signed contract. Does one signature constitute a "signed contract"? The picture he claims the BMAS had while he was working on the mural wasn't completed until he had left Botwood and returned to St John's His first rendition, submitted before coming to Botwood was rejected as it included features (windmills & a quilt pattern) unrelated to the Cottage Hospital theme. His promise to have a revision in hand on arrival in Botwood was unfulfilled. Unfortunately, with the site preparation complete, accomodation arrangemets made and a delay in the hoped for start date, the board accepted a further promise that the rendition would be completed while he worked on the lower section of the mural Bottomline, is mistakes were made in dealing with our first artist/project. But, don't ever think that the artist wasn't equally responsible for failing to meet the requirements. The court ruled infavor of his receiving full payment based on what was considered to be (not a signed contract) a "sales agreement". As an explanation in ruling in favor of the plaintif, the judge explained that if he had sold us a vacuum cleaner and we had failed to return it then payment is due. We had returned the rendition, however failed to cover the mural. The court awarded(?) the rendition to BMAS, and $5000.00 final payment to Michael. The rendition is for sale. Any offers?

  • Kathy Sheehy
    April 23, 2011 - 06:39

    Stop wasting tax payers dollars. A contract is a contract. Case closed

  • Kent
    April 21, 2011 - 07:53

    I find the vast majority of local artwork to be very "cartooon-ish" in style.

  • Bernie Ball
    April 19, 2011 - 12:48

    This makes me sad. ...that mural looks very nice. It's modern, sleek, sophisticated. They must have agreed on a design before he started painting... right? So I wonder why they are withholding pay-- a secret agenda? They should just pay him. That would be the rational, responsible thing to do.