Sign or art? Mural causes controversy in Altoona

Local News

As you come down 12th Avenue in Altoona, it’s easy to miss the corner building, when you turn onto Chestnut Avenue. Now the business owner hopes a new mural will bring more people into his pizza shop. However, the city called him on Monday, telling him he had to stop working.

Wise Guys Pizza owner Bob Goss knew the location of his new shop had diffculties in the past bringing in customers.

“They called it a rearview mirror business, so i decided i was gonna try to catch their attention, because when you do come around, by the time you realize it, it is in your rearview mirror,” he said.

He commissioned Marko Au and Michelle McLoota from No Ka ‘Oi Art Studio to paint an iconic scene from Scarface, but with a light-hearted twist. After four days of work, Goss was told he didn’t have the proper permit to continue working.

“Now we did do some digging. In their code, it says all artwork is exempt from any permit that needs pulled. They’re calling this a sign, i don’t think that’s a sign. That’s artwork,” he argued.

Lee Shusser, the Director of Planning and Development for the City of Altoona, said there’s no violation order or letter sent, but they do need a sign permit. But that’s not stopping the project from moving forward.

“If they ask us to stop, we’ll stop, but for the most part, we’re here to paint, what we were commissioned to do,” Au said.

Goss said he hasn’t received a stop to work permit yet and hopes to work with the city to find a solution. He said the mural should be finished by Friday, but added he can power wash the mural off the building, if necessary.

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