The satiric message of a popular Shepard Fairey mural is being obscured by, of all things, upscale retail. The giant eye stares forever into a blank wall.

One might assume the developer is opposed or oblivious to art. In fact, Carleton Management manages and partly owns both the property under construction and the mural’s building on Fifth Avenue between University and Washington in Hillcrest. Carleton CEO Jeffrey Silberman offered the wall to Fairey, a previous tenant of his.

Silberman said he likes “Obey,” but it was intended to be temporary. It’s printed on paper wheat pasted to the wall. “To remove it, they literally hose it off,” he said. “Just with sun and weather and being outdoors, it was starting to degrade.” The mural’s removal was originally scheduled for January, but with Fairey’s permission, Silberman left it up.

He explained: “We thought it would be cool to leave it on the wall, so it would almost be a time capsule, if you will. It would always be there at least in our minds and hearts; we’ll just not be able to see it.”

Leaving some access to view the mural was impossible, according to the architect, James Brown. “It’s a fire issue,” Brown said. “You have to have a fire separation between property lines.”

The gap between the buildings will be sealed along the front, back and top, he said. “The mural will stay exactly as it looks today.” The new building opens later this year, and the first tenant is Snooze, specializing in trendy comfort food.

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