Artist suing arts society

Sue Hickey shickey@advertisernl.ca
Published on April 19, 2011
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.
Submitted photo

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.

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