After two years of fighting and two federal court cases, the owner of Wag More Dogs grooming and boarding facility in Arlington has retired the business’s controversial mural in favor of a canine-free alternative. The owner, Kim Houghton, was forced to whitewash the mural she commissioned at her business’s opening in 2010 due to complaints from Arlington County’s zoning board, which claimed that the painting constituted an advertisement for Wag More Dogs. As the image greatly exceeded the legal size for business-related signage, Houghton was forced to cover it while taking the county to court in two cases that were settled in favor of Arlington.
This month, Houghton commissioned Zack Weaver and Rob Fogle to create a new mural on the whitewashed wall. The artist duo, who constitute two-thirds of the production company Art Slab Movement, travel around the country in a vehicle they call the Art Cream Truck, previously completed an interestingly similar project in Arlington. A local head shop, the Smokey Shope, came under fire from the country for its own mural, featuring a gentleman holding a cigar. This, like the playful dogs outside Houghton’s facility, was determined by the zoning commission to be an illegally-scaled promotion of the business. Enter Weaver and Fogle, who allowed the Smokey Shope’s owner to side step this county regulation by replacing the cigar with a spouting blue whale. This artistic reinterpretation is documented in an article from The Washington Examiner, in which the author also mentions the similarities between this case and that of Wag More Dogs.
Weaver and Fogle’s brand new mural, which took two weeks to complete, is, as promised, free of any dog-related imagery. Instead, they created a whimsical scene that includes two colorful birds relaxing in a bird’s nest hot tub. According to the artists, these birds are representations of themselves, while a nearby pigtailed bird swinging on a tree branch is based on Houghton herself.
Although Houghton is disappointed that the original image she so eagerly commissioned to showcase her love of canine companions had to be removed, she is excited about the new work that adorns her building’s wall. Weaver and Fogle’s quirky, feathery painting, she says, is “a truly unique and creative image.”