Sonora Florist mural

A rendering of the design of a proposed 8-foot-tall, 16-foot-wide floral mural that would be painted on the south-facing wall of the building occupied by Sonora Florist and Gifts at 35 S. Washington St. in downtown Sonora.

A floral mural proposed by a downtown Sonora flower shop is facing opposition from a committee dedicated to historic preservation.

Scott Barry, the owner of Sonora Florist and Gifts, is seeking a design review permit from the city’s Planning Commission at a public meeting on Monday to paint the mural on the south-facing wall of the building occupied by his business at 35 S. Washington St.

The proposed mural would be about 8 feet tall and 16 feet wide and painted by Christine Yang, an 18-year-old aspiring artist and senior at Sonora High School.

An artist biography included with public documents released prior to the meeting stated that Yang would like to paint the floral mural for her senior project because it would be something to “challenge her and push her art to the next level.”

Yang has lived in Tuolumne County for the past two years and is originally from Fujian, China. Her goal is to attend the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena to become an industrial designer.

“She has never done anything at this scale and with this amount of detail,” Yang’s biography stated. “It will truly be a test for her to not only push herself artistically, but also learn time management skills and problem solving.”

The city’s Community Development Department recommends that the commission approve the permit because it meets the zoning requirements for murals, which include being an original design that complements or enhances the building and neighboring properties.

However, the Tuolumne Heritage Committee sent a letter in opposition to the mural as currently proposed. The same group was also opposed to a mural on the wall of the Sonora Brewing Co. that the commission later approved.

Sharon Marovich, chairwoman of the committee, wrote that the size of the mural as proposed by Sonora Florist and Gifts would detract from the historic appearance of the more than 100-year-old building.

“Sonora derives a significant amount of its revenue from heritage tourism where people delight in our old buildings, our old fashioned ambiance and the genuine flavor of a town that remembers, reveres and preserves its heritage,” she wrote.

Marovich also argued that the city’s ordinance for murals states that their primary purpose should not be to direct attention to products, goods, services, events or entertainment, which would essentially make it a sign as opposed to art.

An alternative that Marovich suggested would be to use the floral design for a sign that could be placed on the wall and advertise the business, which would have to be smaller in size under the rules of the city’s ordinance for signs.

Marovich also suggested that the proposed mural’s “modern feel and appearance” would be better suited in one of the shopping centers outside of the historic downtown area, or somewhere else in East Sonora.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 768-5175.

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