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Mural Artist Challenges Sentence

by TChris

Ed Stoss and his lawyer are both in trouble with the law. Stoss was given a 30 day sentence because the City of Roseville, Michigan doesn't appreciate the mural he painted on the outside of his studio.

Stross, whose mural is a take on Michelangelo's "Creation of Man", depicts Eve with bare breasts and has the word "love" written on it. City officials say they gave the 43-year-old artist permission to paint on the wall but explicitly told him he couldn't use letters or paint genitalia. ... In sentencing Stross on Thursday, Judge Marco Santia also put Stross on probation and ordered him to pay a fine and cover up the breasts and the word "love."

The punishment seems ridiculous for an artist who is only exercising his freedom of artistic expression (and who wishes to express a concept as inoffensive as love), a point that his new lawyer, Carl Marlinga, hopes to make. Marlinga also hopes to persuade the court that breasts are not, in fact, genitalia.

Unfortunately, Marlinga, a former county prosecutor, has problems of his own: he's facing a federal criminal prosecution for campaign finance violations, charges that were brought against him before he entered private practice.

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  • Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 02:39:14 PM EST
    And just who are the idiots that think that breasts are genitals?

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 05:18:28 PM EST
    Sounds to me like he ignored the rules. I guess that is artistic freedom these days. At least he can draw! -C

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#4)
    by jimcee on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 05:34:50 PM EST
    Man some people are idiots aren't they? Of course breasts are not genetalia no matter whose intrepretation of humanity one believes. Nothing wrong with "love" either IMHO. He had permission to paint a mural on the side of his own building and so he did. That someone would complain after the fact is antithetical to the process that includes elected officials to make decisions for the whole of the community and (hey!) they said OK. Other than that, whoever is complaining should just avoid that fella's business and show their power through economic means and that is the most democratic power of all. Man, who would complain about someone painting their business, heck, in my part of town six of every ten houses could use lick of paint. Quite honestly I'm not complaining about my neighbors because we are all inter-urban pioneers and sometimes it is better to make improvements on the inside and leave the outside facade as just that, run down. Just leave the guy alone.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 07:33:46 PM EST
    oops, me above.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#7)
    by Adept Havelock on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 08:03:59 PM EST
    Paul in La- I don't agree with you often, but your point regarding Europe's trivialization of breasts is a good one. I've long thought that America's national hangup about breasts was indicative of deeper disorders. Most cultures? Symbol of motherhood. Here in the good ole' USA? It's just flesh, folks.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 08:52:27 PM EST
    Hey a land of freedom for some and a land of prison for others, its bush and the 7 commandments. and watch out if you get on the bad side of this saddam like el president.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#10)
    by Johnny on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 10:29:25 PM EST
    Cliff, if he had painted a scene from Hustler, i would agree that he didn't listen to the "rules"... A breast is not a genital, unless you are a knee jerk, anti-arts, right wing nut yes man... He did nothing wrong. The real issue is that he painted a demigod (Eve) as less than fully clothed (ie: something Condi rice would wear)... If it had been another mythical woman from another mythology, the "uproar" would not be present. Too bad he got himself a loser of a lawyer, he would have a case I think.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 06:10:23 AM EST
    Who'd have thunk that NY would be more progressive than CA? At least in NY there are clear guidelines when female breasts can (in any nonsexual context, i.e.: sunbathing, etc...) and cannot be publicly displayed.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 08:19:31 AM EST
    City officials say they gave the 43-year-old artist permission to paint on the wall but explicitly told him he couldn't use letters or paint genitalia
    Broke. The. Rules. Liberal blockheads. Ask fifteen people on the streets of Roseville if they think large realistic breasts are appropriate sinage? Would you say that if a city had a sign ordinance that forbade, say, Red and someone put up a sign in, say, Chartreuse that they weren't breaking the rules? Oh, and Alan? Your refrigerator light is on. -C

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#14)
    by Sailor on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:53:54 AM EST
    et al - please rise above the temptation of making personal attacks. The definition of genitalia is organs of the reproductive system; especially : the external genital organs. And while I have engaged in a certain back and forth motion with well endowed female companions, I swear they couldn't get impregnated by my stroke of good luck. (That would have been a lot less prolix if this wasn't a SFW blog;-) Cliff- The question wasn't whether the breastseses on 'sinage' offended anyone, but whether said boobies violated the agreement. Breasts, by definition, are not genitalia. Maybe in our zero tolerance (and common sense) society he should have to remove the word 'love' [IRONY ALERT!], but the mammaries get a ... ahem ... pass.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#15)
    by Adept Havelock on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:57:28 AM EST
    My, my, Cliff. Purposefully obtuse today, aren't we? What don't you get? The prohibition was against painting pictures of genitalia, nothing else. The definition of genitalia is: gen·i·ta·li·a (jn-tl-, -tly) pl.n. The reproductive organs, especially the external sex organs. Source: The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. Or: Main Entry: gen·i·ta·lia Pronunciation: "jen-&-'tAl-y& Function: noun plural : the organs of the reproductive system; especially : the external genital organs —gen·i·ta·lic /-'tal-ik, -'tAl-/ adjective Source: Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc. Now, if you want to claim you know better than two leading medical dictionaries, be my guest. The point remains, while some uptight folks might have a problem with bare breasts, the artist did nothing wrong. If he had painted someone's Genitals, he would be in violation of his agreement. He didn't. He did nothing wrong, other than to give offense to a few fools who can't handle seeing a woman's bare breast. You might be able to argue that he violated the spirit of the agreement, but not the letter. BTW Did you support the AG that lost an election to a corpse when he put burqas on the statues in the Justice Dept.?

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:23:32 AM EST
    He did nothing wrong, other than to give offense to a few fools who can't handle seeing a woman's bare breast. I for one think the world would be a better place if we all saw a little more of them.... In fact, I have the solution for the prevention of hijackings, and at the same time getting our airline industry back on its feet. Since men of the Muslim religion are not allowed to look at naked women we should replace all of our female flight attendants with strippers. Muslims would be afraid to get on the planes for fear of seeing a naked woman, and of course, every businessman in this country would start flying again in hope of seeing a naked woman. Hijackings would end and the airline industry would have record sales.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 01:37:41 PM EST
    "Posted by B.B.: "Since men of the Muslim religion are not allowed to look at naked women we should replace all of our female flight attendants with strippers." Apparently you have read nothing about the 911 hijackers, who the FBI documented spent their time at strip bars and with prostitutes while waiting for the big day. The idea that these felons were observant Muslims is a complete myth. Also, check out how many of the hijackers were in the US on quickie passports out of Saudi Arabia. Check out how many of these hijackers were CIA trained. So if your plan was to reduce the number of hijackings with nudity, you better be planning on deploying your strippers at Langely. Btw, a mural with a breast is not the display of a breast, just as the painting of a dollar won't buy you any twinkies.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#18)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 02:02:21 PM EST
    Paul in LA... Thanks ..it was suppose to be a joke.. Chill dude

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 08:03:38 PM EST
    jimcee - I am actually a T more than an A man. Just ask my long suffering wife. Her favorite quote of mine towards the kids in their first years: Enjoy it now, that's a rental and I'm the landlord. But my point still stands: Broke. The. Rules. No words: Love No genetalia: Breasts. Yes, yes, technically they aren't reproductive organs. Neither is a rectum. Neither is an engorged male reproductive member that's had a vascetomy. Nor, technically, would have been a cow's nether region though there probably would have been little outrage. "You can do anything you want as long as you don't wake the babies or scare the horses." I am not a big fan of restrictive city gov'ts but you gotta play by the rules. It's not exactly like this is the Greensboro sitin, you know? -C

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimcee on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:13:13 PM EST
    deleted due to language that will attract censor software

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimcee on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:14:05 PM EST
    deleted, language, commenter warned.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:14:59 PM EST
    Let's just face it, people who think breasts are genitals are either stupid, illiterate or just contrary. As for Cliff, I would vote for the former. [insult deleted] Cheers, Alan Tomlinson

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#8)
    by Dadler on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:15:29 PM EST
    what's with these guys and t**s? ashscroft and his "cover-up" on the local scale. somehow i think if he'd painted an ode to our battlefield soldiers, complete with guns and ammo and tanks and all, well, that'd be okay. but boobs? sex? why? because a long, long time ago, all the puritans got on boats over in europe, and they sailed...right here! sometimes, even the most distant relative pay a visit. then again, the pilgrims loved their beer, and came ashore at plymouth rock partly because they'd run out of fresh water to brew their suds with.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#2)
    by desertswine on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:16:09 PM EST
    Well if Eve's breasts are considered "gnitalia" then God's man-nips must also be "gnitalia."

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 01:47:02 AM EST
    "Yes, yes, technically they aren't reproductive organs." And there you have it. Not genitals, therefore the guy can't be ordered to jail for 30 days for painting genitals on his store. Now, the rest of the confusion, Cliff, is just bunk, and you know it. The guy did not violate the restrictions the city gave him. You admit that. So it was stupid of you to claim otherwise, as if legal agreements like mural licences don't have to be specific. If the city leaders meant to limit murals of breasts, then they ought to finish high school and actually earn their law degrees sufficient to know the dictionary meaning of the words in their contracts.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#23)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 02:21:29 AM EST
    When I see a baby pop out from between someone's breasts, I will concede this one to Cliff.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 04:55:24 AM EST
    paul - What part about "no letters" and the word "love" did you fail to conjoin? scar - I've seen several babies pop out from between my wife's breasts. They'd been born some time earlier, but they were small babies and.... I think we have too d*mn many lawyers here who are being obtuse b/c they can be. I will repeat myself: stop ten citizens of Roseville, MI and ask them if they think breasts were part of the ban on display of genetalia. I betcha get 90% or 100%. I would also say that you missed my point about an engorged male member that had been vacetomized - it is technically no longer a reproductive organ and therefore could, by your logic, be displayed. Jail is silly, they should just send the city guys out with white paint and then send him a bill. -C

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 11:41:02 AM EST
    Will our nation ever rid itself of the chains of puritanism? Old habits and superstitions die real hard I guess.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#26)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 02:59:52 PM EST
    "Posted by Cliff: What part about "no letters" and the word "love" did you fail to conjoin?" The ban on letters wasn't the issue you raised. "I think we have too d*mn many lawyers here who are being obtuse b/c they can be. I will repeat myself: stop ten citizens of Roseville, MI and ask them if they think breasts were part of the ban on display of genetalia. I betcha get 90% or 100%." Moot. The licence is legally-binding on its language. "I would also say that you missed my point about an engorged male member that had been vacetomized - it is technically no longer a reproductive organ and therefore could, by your logic, be displayed." Moot. 'Genitals' are genitals whether or not the particular genitals are functional. Breast are not genitals, no matter if they are functional. Those are longstanding definitions, not something to be made up at random. The city leaders ought to have required approval of the design, and not been so lazy as to let it be anything the artist decided. But the bit banning 'letters' is probably to avoid commercial advertisement, not to block abstract words like 'love.'

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#27)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 12:26:01 AM EST
    actually cliff did raise the issue of the letters when he said the guy broke the rules. sure, the discussion started with why some folks consider breasts genitals but that does not alter the fact that cliff is right about his point. jail time is indeed too severe a penalty but the artist did indeed break the rules; by letter of law and in the spirit of law he should at least be fined and the city, according to its governing rules, is allowed to have the mural removed due to breach of signed contract. freedom of expression does not allow freedom to break contracts &/or laws. at any rate, there has been a stay on his jail time and on the removal of the mural, so perhaps another court will let it all go.

    Re: Mural Artist Challenges Sentence (none / 0) (#28)
    by Andreas on Thu Feb 24, 2005 at 02:24:22 AM EST
    Wendy Wagenheim, Communications Director of the Michigan ACLU, explained to the WSWS that Stross had a “good case” which involved the constitutional right to free speech. “Not only should he not be jailed,” she commented, “for replicating classical art, but Mr. Stross has multiple sclerosis and jail is certainly not the right place for someone with a disability.” Stross collapsed in his studio Tuesday and was taken by ambulance to St. John Hospital. His brother told the media, “The stress over this fight got to be just too much.” A number of Michigan artists have spoken out against Stross’ victimization. “If it’s good enough for the Sistine Chapel, it’s good enough for Roseville,” said Lauren Cerand, spokesperson for Emerging Arts. Jef Bourgeau, who faced obscenity charges in Pontiac, Michigan, in 2000 for displaying classical art such as Gustave Courbet’s “The Origin of the World,” told the WSWS: “It’s an absurd case. I had the same experience in Pontiac. Stross’ is a folk version of Michelangelo. There is more nudity in your average church. Sex has become one of the main focuses since the Christian right has gained influence. There has been an increasing preoccupation by the right wing with what is quite normal in art."
    Michigan artist sentenced to jail over mural nudity By Joanne Laurier, 24 February 2005