Board agrees to pay artist for mascot mural

3:36 PM, Jul 13, 2006   |    comments
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Wyoming- The Godfrey Lee Board of Education will pay artist Arturo Araujo the $2,000 he is owed for painting a mural on a gym wall. "To recognize the quality of his work on the mural while still acknowledging that a level of miscommunication occured," said Superintendent Jack Wallington. The board and the high school sports boosters commissioned former student Arturo Araujo to paint the Lee High School Rebel mascot on a gym wall. The board of education threatened to withhold payment because the artist painted the Confederate Rebel with a dark skinned face, unlike the sketch he provided when he was hired. "I was shooting to represent the whole student body," says artist Arturo Araujo. "75 percent colored, 25 percent caucasion. That was the whole idea of painting the mural. So the whole school is represented by it's mascot." The high school boosters paid the artist $2,000, their half of the commission. But with some reservations. "By his own admission he changed the mural without consulting the people who hired him to paint," says high school sports booster Linda Rose. "I don't really think that's a fair thing to do." Even after they agreed to pay him the remainder of his commissiion, the artist say he still believes the majority of the board is prejudiced. "I think they are racist," Araujo said after a special board meeting to discuss the issue Wednesday night. "I think they are racist, period." Before announcing their decision at the special meeting, the board listened to some opinions from citizens. "The artist does not have the right to present his political agenda on a public property," said resident Walt SChultze. "The school is no longer 99.99% white," resident Larry Booker told the board. "It's a reality. The school is more or less minority owned. The district has changed and I don't see what the problem is about having a rebel who actually represents the student body." One citizen said the board should solve the problem by changing mascots and get rid of the Confederate Rebel who fought to defend slavery in the civil war. In 1997 the district removed the Confederate Flag as a banner in the high school because it might be offensive to students.

Whitney Watson

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