South Salt Lake puts a stop to plans for mural at Exotic Kitty

SOUTH SALT LAKE -- A well-known Salt Lake area artist said the City of South Salt Lake won't let him paint a mural, because the mural would be located on one of the outside walls of a strip club.

Shae Petersen paints commissioned pieces and public works of art in Utah and across the country.

Most of his work usually fills large spaces, like a 200-foot wall mural depicting Greek gods at a business on 300 West in South Salt Lake.

That particular wall caught the eye of Thomas Eddy.

"I always thought, 'Hey if I had a business building like that, that I'd want something like that,'" he said.

Eddy said he ended up purchasing Exotic Kitty in South Salt Lake just over a year ago, and HE spent months on a huge remodel in and outside of the building.

He said he wanted to, "Make a really nice place here, and clean it up a little bit."

Part of cleaning that up, he explained, included plans for a mural like the one on 300 West to fill one of the outside walls.

He hired Petersen, and said he gave Petersen the freedom to express whatever he wanted to.

"I want it to be visually striking, so I try to use a lot of colors that are very appealing, but also very powerful," Petersen explained.

Petersen came up with the design and concept for a mural filled with vivid pinks and purples, and a woman with a panther.

"A big, strong cat, and kind of more of like a soft woman in the background," he said, describing the mural.

But, unlike the mural Petersen painted on the other South Salt Lake business, he said he faced nothing but red tape in trying to get the project started.

"City jumped in and said, 'Okay business owner may like it but we don't,'" he said.

Eddy provided a letter to Fox 13 from the South Salt Lake City Planner that stated, "The sign you seek to have painted on the exterior of Exotic Kitty is not permitted under South Salt Lake Municipal Code."

Petersen said he was willing to tweak the design, but said the city didn't see that as an option.

"Rather than them coming back and saying, 'We want anything changed,' they just flat out said that, 'No. This is a sign. Nothing's approved,'" he said.

The artist said he's never seen anyone classify a mural as a sign.

He and Eddy explained they think the city decided to do so in this case because of the kind of business the mural would be painted on.

"I felt they were singling our business out, because of the type of business it was," Eddy said.

"So with that, they can't just blatantly deny a mural but what they can do is say, 'Hey, this is a sign and we have restrictions," Petersen said.

He now plans to fight the decision. Petersen said he launched a petition that's gathered 2,000 signatures and will attend a hearing with the city in January.

If they still deny the mural, Petersen said he plans to sue.

Fox 13 reached out to South Salt Lake Friday evening, but did not hear back.