Locals fight with club owner over fate of UWS mural

A proposed Upper West Side nightclub located at 240 Columbus Avenue is advancing in the approval process, but it’s not the potential for loud music and drunken late-night antics that has neighborhood activists upset. It’s the possible removal of a mural by Cuban artist Arturo Martin from a shuttered Cuban restaurant storefront, which preservationists claim is an important mark of the area’s heritage, the New York Times reported.

The 40-year-old bronze-colored mural depicts a farmer and his oxen at work on a Cuban sugar cane farm. Activists aim to have the nightclub owners preserve it to pay tribute to the neighborhood’s Cuban population.

The farmer’s bare chest also gives a nod to the area’s gay scene during that time, according to the article, and activists have asked the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission for help.

But Greg Hunt, one of the nightclub owners, said the mural is”sappy”: insignificant historically and does not fit in with the sophisticated and casual image of the club. Hunt told the New York Times that his plan to demolish the mural had already been approved by the local community board’s preservation committee.

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“The location has been an eyesore for years and we’re investing close to $2 million to renovate it and make it wonderful again,” Hunt told the Times. “I don’t want to open with two decrepit, sappy cows. For anyone to tell us what our design should be, is not fair.” [NYT]