No comment from MU on Tiger Spot lawsuit

The lawsuit was filed Jan. 19.
Tiger Spot, located in Lowry Mall, has been covered with a tarp since 2007. The mosaic was created by Paul Jackson and unveiled in 2001 but was damaged over time due to weather, vandalism and foot traffic. Maneater File Photo

Details of Tiger Spot artist Paul Jackson’s lawsuit against the UM System Board of Curators allege negligence and misrepresentation on the part of the university as reason behind the lawsuit.

Tiger Spot, a 30-foot-wide mosaic bearing the face of a tiger, was completed in 2001 and has since been the subject of heated debate between students, administration and Jackson, the work’s creator.

The university blames weather and vandalism for the damages that have led the mosaic to be covered by a large tarp since August 2007.

Jackson’s complaint, filed Jan. 19 through Columbia attorneys Tofle and Oxenhandler, cites the university’s failure to uphold the artist’s specifications and defamation as motivations for the lawsuit.

In an e-mail, MU spokesman Christian Basi said the university is unable to comment because it has not received a copy of the lawsuit.

“When we are served with the lawsuit, our attorneys will review it and file an appropriate response,” Basi said.

According to the complaint from Jackson, the concrete pad that the mosaic sits atop was installed incorrectly, resulting in an uneven plane that caused poor drainage and water damage. The exact dimensions of the concrete pad were also slightly smaller than originally specified, according to the document.

The complaint also alleges the removal of a protective tent without Jackson’s consent led to further damage while the concrete was still setting and curing. When the area in front of Ellis Library was reopened immediately following the opening ceremony, the mosaic became open to skateboard, snowplow, foot, vehicular and other traffic.

Jackson’s complaint also states his protests were ignored when the university used jackhammers to install 21 steel bollards around Tiger Spot and a Bobcat loader was driven on the surface of the artwork.

“The Defendant University has wrongfully, intentionally and negligently deprived the Artist of his right to prevent distortion and mutilation of the Tiger Spot mosaic,” the complaint stated.

By using Jackson’s name and reputation in connection with Tiger Spot and subsequently preventing him from maintaining the artwork, the artist claims his rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 have been violated. He also claims the university has violated his copyright on the image and prevented him from profiting financially from licensing the Tiger Spot image for the past nine years.

The document moves for the university to properly repair, display and maintain Tiger Spot and reimburse the artist’s attorney fees within reason.

Additionally, Jackson calls for the specific details of Tiger Spot’s maintenance and preservation fund to be publicly accounted for.

In July 2006, the university announced plans to remove Tiger Spot as the result of harsh Missouri weather and notified Jackson in March 2010 that it would not repair the mosaic.

Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Jackie Jones, who has dealt with complaints regarding Tiger Spot in the past, could not be reached for comment.

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