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City Plans to Pay Artist $47.5K for Murals, in Taxpayer-Funded Project

Updated: Wednesday, June 11 2014, 07:34 PM EDT

A mural completed last week along East Eager in Baltimore City has attracted attention, curiosity and even some condemnation from city residents.

It features two simple words that stretch an entire city block: "Forever Together."

The mural continues around the corner with, "I am here because its HOME," and was painted by New York artist Steve Powers, also known by his former graffiti tag, ESPO.

The city plans to pay Powers $47,500 to produce 5-10 more murals in Baltimore, a taxpayer-funded project. The city says the yet-to-be-completed murals will be permanent, though the funding is currently on hold, after a board member requested additional information.

In a few months the 35 vacant properties in East Baltimore -- with the first mural on them -- will cease to exist. The city was aware the buildings were slated for demolition when it agreed to pay Powers $1,000 and spend an additional $1,900 to rent him a lift.

At City Hall Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was asked if she supported the city-wide project.

"I believe an area in transition is just as worthy as any other area to receive beautiful art," Rawlings-Blake said.

But not all members of Baltimore's Board of Estimates sees Powers' proposed mural project in the same light.

"[It's] going to be very simple a waste of taxpayer dollars, a simple waste," City Council President and Chair of the Board of Estimates Jack Young said.

By Wednesday only one permanent site had been confirmed for the permanent mural: along I-295 at the Fitch Co building. The property owners are enthusiastic about the proposal.

"I think art is underappreciated today," Fitch Co Logistics Manager Pete Witkowski said. "This is a great opportunity, great artist, world-renowned, why not have it in Baltimore?"

City Plans to Pay Artist $47.5K for Murals, in Taxpayer-Funded Project

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