Banana Mural Riles Indiana Town

By: ABC News Email
By: ABC News Email

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The mural on the house is clearly a banana. But is it art? Or an advertisement?

That is the question facing a town in Indiana as it weighs whether or not the house can keep its banana mural.

Yossarian Gutwein painted the picture of a banana on a house near Purdue University in West Lafayette. The house is in a prominent area of town and needed a paint job, Stuart Gutwein, who is Yossarian Gutwein’s cousin, told ABC News. Gutwein’s law firm handles legal issues for Granite Management, which manages the property.

But the logo for Granite Management is also a banana. Consequently, it has become a sticking point as to whether the painting is also serving as an advertisement for Granite Management.

Eric Burns, the attorney for the city council, explained to ABC News that if the mural was unquestionably artwork, the town would not be getting involved. It would constitute a form of free expression protected by the First Amendment. But because the banana is also the logo of Granite Management, it could be construed as advertising, which can be subject to commercial regulation under a county ordinance.

“There is clearly a commercial element to it,” said Burns. “Right now, we are just trying to develop the facts about what is behind it.”
Dave Buck, the city engineer, has called a meeting for the end of the month to discuss the matter. No decisions will be made until then. Buck could not immediately be reached for comment.


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