August 6, 2013 in Business, City

‘Iconic’ mural in need of wall

Art’s removal draws Facebook complaints
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Tom Quinn’s mural depicting Gonzaga University celebrities and athletes has been removed from the south wall of a former tavern at corner of Hamilton Street and Sharp Avenue in Spokane. The building is being converted into a coffee shop.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location
People, players on the mural

Not sure who’s on the mural? Visit a website devoted to Tom Quinn’s Gonzaga University mural:

A wall mural that used to hang on the side of the former Bulldog Tavern will likely find a new home.

The 60-foot-long mural, painted by Spokane artist Tom Quinn between 2011 and 2012, was taken down two weeks ago by managers of a new business moving into the former neighborhood hangout at 1305 N. Hamilton.

The new owners are turning the landmark building – which served as a watering hole for Gonzaga teachers and students for 65 years – into a coffee shop and eatery.

Before the new business opens in October, Willard Quinn, the mural’s owner, said he plans to move it to the wall of a building next to the former Bulldog Tavern.

Quinn – not related to the mural artist – said his goal was to keep the mural in the neighborhood. He owns the building at 1307 N. Hamilton and said the mural would fit exactly on that building’s north wall.

That building is currently used by secondhand clothing and music store Righteous Rags & Recordings.

Chris Nichols, one of the three owners of the new business to occupy the former Bulldog, Chairs Coffee & Public House, said the mural was taken down so that one wall of the coffee shop can be converted into a walk-up window for customers.

Nichols said last week that he’d heard from people who didn’t think the mural fit the mood of a college-themed coffee shop.

But this week Nichols and his partners, Mitch Moczulski and Scott Wilburn, discovered how fast a company can be pounded by social media users.

The Chairs Facebook page drew complaints from some who disapproved of the removal, as did Tom Quinn’s personal Facebook page.

“Looking back, we should not have just taken it down without saying anything,” Nichols said. “We should have told the community what was happening. That was a mistake.”

Quinn, the artist who painted the mural, is a Gonzaga graduate; he created it at the request of building owner Willard Quinn and his wife, Christine.

It features 42 figures plus one feisty bulldog named Bubba. Most of the figures have Gonzaga connections, including basketball coaches Mark Few and Dan Fitzgerald; notable basketball players like Casey Calvary; and alumni such as Sherman Alexie, Chris Gregoire, Carl Maxey and former Speaker of the House Tom Foley.

One figure whose face was on the wall but removed later is former hoop star John Stockton, who wasn’t happy about being featured there, a former tavern manager said.

Tom Quinn said he’s happy that the mural will be restored, even if it’s in a different spot.

He added: “It’s not a signature piece of mine. But I do love the Bulldog, since I went to Gonzaga and spent time inside the business.”

Tom Quinn has painted a number of murals in the Spokane area, including a historical work on a wall of the Spokane airport’s C Concourse.

Willard Quinn said he always intended to find a good home for the mural. At one time he and the coffee shop owners considered donating it to a nonprofit that could auction it for charity.

“The last thing I wanted to do was put the mural in storage,” he said.

One of the people who posted a Facebook comment against removing the mural is Rick Eichstaedt, executive director of the Spokane-based Center for Justice. Eichstaedt said he considers public art an important part of a city’s cultural life.

After learning that the mural was likely moving to another wall, Eichstaedt said that’s a good choice.

“This work is an iconic part of that community,” Eichstaedt said. “It belongs in that neighborhood.”

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