Capitol Hill mural 'mishap' leads to calls to boycott BECU

SEATTLE — A mural mishap pinned BECU against a Seattle art gallery. A firestorm erupted online over this rainbow mural painted on top of a mural of Kurt Cobain on a Capitol Hill garage.

In the last few hours hour came a truce of sorts.

BECU says it commissioned this mural in honor of gay pride as a goodwill gesture to this community. Well, their good intention back-fired especially on line.

The artist actually refused to paint the Capitol Hill mural while the camera was rolling. He says he has been stung by the criticism of him and BECU. So he packed up his spray paints and left.

But his work is already winning admirers from those unaware of the controversy.

"No, I don't know about that," said Ronda Hart of West Seattle. "But it's gonna bring so much happiness to the neighborhood. Yeah."

She thinks it should stay. "I do," she said. "Oh, what a waste of talent if it doesn't."

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What was there was a mural of grunge icon Kurt Cobain painted by a British artist, commissioned by Pioneer Square's Treason Gallery. That was last August. This year BECU decided to commission another artist to create a mural all its own.

"So they covered it up?" asked Carol Odem of Woodinville. "Oh. That probably didn't go over too well, huh? Uh-oh."

That was especially true on Instagram.

Among the posts were "Unbelievable," wrote Futuristo. "Shameful mistake." Others, like Still_radical, called for a boycott of BECU. "I'll be taking my membership elsewhere. This is disgusting."

So the two sides decided they needed to meet to resolve this.

Just before 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, Matthew McMurry from Treason Gallery and Stephen Black, BECU vice president for brand strategies stood together outside the mural.

They were asked what they had decided.

"I'd like Matthew to speak to that," said Black.

"Were going to be working with BECU to restore the original mural in a set location," McMurry said. "We have to determine that yet. But to bring the original artist back out to paint the original mural for Capitol Hill and the community alike."

"Yeah," said Black. "We think that if that opportunity is available to us that we would really like to get behind that."

So the mural will stay.

That still leaves the artist fighting off criticism. He says he has worked for 20 years to get a commission from a company like BECU. Now he worries he could be a victim of a firestorm he did not create.

Black says BECU will make him whole.

"I think now we will have an opportunity to work back with our artist and come out and sort of proudly say we stand behind this work, said Black. "This is the gentleman that we put forth to do this work for us. And let him in on the solution as well."

An artistic solution he can only hope will satisfy their critics.

By the way, both Treason Gallery and BECU had permission from the owner to commission the mural. But it seems neither one knew about the other.