When you own a building and rent out one of the rooms, does your tenant have carte blanche to decorate the space according to personal preference?
That's a question that's come up recently when Inversion Coffee House, which shares a building with its landlord, the Art League Houston, took down a prominent mural window display — a tribute to a 2005 art project by the artist collaborative Havel Ruck that once stood in the same space.
“Inversion is making some great changes — hired new staff, changed the coffee to Greenway — but this (removing the mural) isn’t one,” says Art League Houston director Michael Peranteau.
“The mural was a touchstone for people from around the world. A man came from Japan a month ago to see it," says Art League director Michael Peranteau.
He acknowledges that there's nothing in the lease that prevents the removal, but laments, “The mural was a touchstone for people from around the world. A man came from Japan a month ago to see it.”
Furthermore, Peranteau notes, the timing of the episode occurs just before the Art League’s installation honoring Havel Ruck Projects. The duo is being honored as the 2014 Texas Artists of the Year and an exhibition of their work will open Sept. 19 in the adjoining Art League space.
Because the mural photograph was a large sticker in the window, it couldn't be saved when removed.
Inversion owner Greg Johnson insists he had only good intentions with regards to the change of décor. “I spoke with (Dan) Havel and (Dean) Ruck before the original structure from 2005 was demolished. I suggested doing something to commemorate the project, so I named the place in its honor, hung a photo of the piece on the wall and placed a large mural sticker in the window," he says.
"With David Buehrer (Blacksmith Coffee, Greenway Coffee) now on board as managing partner, we’re transitioning. That includes adding a new artwork display in support of local artists. The mural blocked not only the sunlight, but also the view of the interior. You couldn’t see out (into the parking lot) either, which was a hazard to our employees leaving after closing up for the night. We took it down for the right reasons.”
Even so, for some longtime customers, it won't seem the same without the distinctive mural that explained the coffee shop's name.