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Mural incites stupidity
From the Isthmus archives, Nov. 27, 1987

Exasperated by the controversy surrounding his trompe l'oeil mural nearing completion on the Olin Terrace retaining wall, New York-based artist Richard Haas defends the $60,000 commission in a City Notes interview with staff writer Paul Gerard. "What Madison basically got was a total bargain," avers the Spring Green native, assailing the debate surrounding the mural as "some of the most mundane, stupid and innocuous banter that I've encountered" and slamming local media for "trying to make some sort of mini-Watergate out of nothing." Noting that the mural alludes to the unbuilt convention center proposed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Haas says his mural attempts to "complete" the city's unrealized plans to extend Olin Terrace "down to some sort of grand boulevard below and a grand access route toward the lake." In a cruel stroke of irony, the mural is significantly obscured within 10 years by the construction of the Wright-inspired Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, though parts of the work remain visible today and photographs of the full work can be viewed on the artist's website at In addition to exhibiting his paintings and prints at galleries and museums in the U.S. and Europe, Haas continues to execute large-scale murals, completing three in New York last year and now working on one for Ohio's Lakewood Public Library.

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