ACLU Hopes to Keep Roseville Artist Out of Jail

Detroit — After hearing the plight of an artist sentenced to jail for painting a mural on the side of an office building, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is filing an emergency motion to keep him out of jail pending an appeal of the sentence.

"It is disturbing that an artist can be imprisoned for replicating a masterpiece from the Sistine Chapel on the side of his art studio,” said ACLU Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg.

Edward Stross, a 43 year old Roseville man, was sentenced by 39A District Judge Marco Santia to serve 30 days in jail, do two years' probation and pay a $500 fine for violating a city sign ordinance. Stross painted a variation on Michelangelo's "Creation of Man" which shows Eve with a bare breast.

“When I first created this artwork, it was not meant to be controversial,” said Stross. “I was tipping my hat to an artist that I admire. It’s a classic piece that shows the artistic integrity inside my studio. It’s unfortunate that others are interpreting it differently.”

Stross, who is physically disabled has painted other large works of art, one of which is a patriotic depiction of the Statue of Liberty in the VFW Hall in Roseville. “I have Multiple Sclerosis and these paintings give me a spiritual and physical lift,” Stross added.

The motion was filed late Friday afternoon. Stross is expected to begin his sentence on Monday, February 21.

UPDATES:

March 4, 2005 - Judge Peter Maceroni continued the order to stay Edward Stross' sentence until he issues a written decision. The decision to set or deny bond pending appeal is expected early next week.

Feb. 22 - The emergency motion to grant bond pending appeal was filed this morning in Macomb County Circuit Court. The case has been assigned to Judge Peter J. Maceroni. The case will be heard in Judge Maceroni's court on March 4 at 2:00 p.m.

Feb. 19 - Edward Stross will not begin his 30-day sentence until the motion for bond pending appeal is heard on Tuesday, February 22. The order for the stay, signed by Circuit Court Judge Antonia P. Viviano, was granted on the condition that the controversial parts of the mural are temporarily covered.

Related Issues: