Tiger Spot artist sues UM curators

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | 8:03 p.m. CST; updated 10:21 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Damage to Tiger Spot as a result of vandalism and weather has left MU considering abandoning the mosaic.

COLUMBIA — Columbia artist Paul Jackson has filed a lawsuit against the UM System Board of Curators concerning the Tiger Spot mosaic he created on MU next to Ellis Library.

Attorney Marvin Tofle filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, saying that Jackson's rights as an artist had been violated under the Visual Artists Rights Act

The complaint alleges that the university didn't follow specified instructions in the design and maintenance of the area around the mosaic. The result has been excessive damage to the work and Jackson’s reputation, the lawsuit states.

The mosaic of small glass tiles arranged to depict a tiger was unveiled on Oct. 21, 2001, and has been in and out of the news ever since.  In the work’s short history, it has gone from what MU’s former Chancellor Richard Wallace called a “wonderful vision,” according to previous Missourian report, to being covered by a tarp in 2007. It has rarely been uncovered since then.

Christian Basi, associate director of the MU News Bureau, declined to comment about the lawsuit. 

“At this point we can’t talk about it,” Basi said.

He said that the university had not officially been served with a lawsuit.

The complaint seeks unspecified damages, citing:

  • vandalism to the mosaic itself.
  • the harm that was done by construction of bollards around it.
  •  improper drainage systems near the work.
  • the university’s failure to keep the area covered as the concrete around the tiles was set.

In 2002, MU constructed a drain at the top of the mosaic for an estimated $11,000 to keep rainwater away from it. Unfortunately water remained an issue.    

The document states: “Maintenance and repair were required on numerous occasions to fix problem areas due to the (university’s) failure to provide adequate drainage to the Tiger Spot mosaic.”

Jackson could not be reached for comment.

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Andrew Hansen January 26, 2011 | 8:28 p.m.

"MU’s former Chancellor Richard Wallace called a "wonderful vision,'"
A shame Wallace was so polite.

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