PLANT CITY — A downtown mural that five years ago sparked controversy over whether it contained an image of a male sex organ has been painted over.
The owners of the building hired a painting contractor to cover the mural with a coat of white paint. By Thursday, the mural was totally covered.
Darcy Stottlemyer, who with her husband Pat bought the building about two years ago, said the mural's colors had faded and it would have cost too much to replicate it.
The portion of the painting that some found so offensive - what appeared to be a male sex organ - was altered shortly after it was unveiled, and well before the Stottlemyers bought the building.
The creation, reminiscent of Norman Rockwell's April Fool masterpiece, has been something of a landmark at Reynolds and Evers streets.
Artist Blake Emory, a Plant City native who helped created the mural, denied that his work included anything offensive. He said that what appeared to some to be a sex organ was an arm of a chair, but he nevertheless altered the mural.
The controversy surrounding the mural was followed by a ban by city commissioners on murals in most instances in the downtown historic district. The ban is still in effect, City Attorney Ken Buchman said.
Emory said via email that he was in New York City on Friday and was disappointed that the mural next to the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce's office had been removed.
Darcy Stottlemyer said she knew little about the controversy that originally surrounded the mural.
“I knew people were upset but I didn't know what it was about and I figured they had gotten over it,” she said. “For us, it was just a maintenance issue and it needed to be painted.”