Floodwall Artist Says Murals Belong To Him

Jun 25, 2013

Credit wikipedia.org

The artist who painted many of the floodwall murals in Paducah’s historic downtown district is speaking out against the city for the way officials are handling the restoration of his paintings.

Louisiana-based muralist Robert Dafford says the images from Paducah’s past that decorate the walls along the Ohio River are his images and that only he has the right to restore them.

Paducah commissioners will consider Dafford’s restoration bid at Tuesday's meeting.

Several local artists are petitioning the city to consider another local contract, citing Dafford’s plans to use an associate of his for the actual work on the murals.

Local artist and petitioner Jeff Spencer says Dafford’s work is his, but federal artist protection laws do not give him license to transfer rights to an associate.

But Dafford calls that an amateur interpretation of the Visual Artist Rights Act, which he believes allows him to use a representative for the restoration.

“The city has taken the attitude that it’s a great big coloring book that anyone can color on. The lowest bidder wins, regardless of the qualifications of that person.”

A local law firm advised the mural citizens’ advisory committee with a similar interpretation.

Dafford says if he is forced to lower his bid or is out-bid for restoration efforts on his own work, he will seek legal action against Paducah.

He says neither city commissioners nor the petitioners have respected his artistic rights and claims he has not been consulted about the fate of his own aging artwork.