Look! Up in the sky! It's art! No, it's a sign!

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A work of art or a sign?

City and downtown officials are reportedly exploring whether the new mural on the storefront at Inland Octopus has legs as art or whether it's out of compliance with sign regulations.

Members of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation's Design Committee made a trip to the Main Street toy store Tuesday to check out the mural -- a giant purple octopus peeking over castle walls with a rainbow overhead. Downtown foundation Executive Director Elio Agostini said he will meet with his board of directors today to discuss whether the organization will publicly oppose the mural and push for its removal or support it.

The mural, painted by longtime local theater set artist Aaron Randall, has been the center of controversy over downtown design standards since it was painted over Labor Day weekend.

Inland Octopus owner Bob Catsiff had planned for the mural ever since moving into the spot at 7 E. Main St. from further up the road last April. The mural had been given the thumbs down from the foundation's Design Committee, as well as city planning officials. But Catsiff could find no evidence in the city code that his piece wouldn't be allowed. He believes it qualifies as art rather than a sign. City officials are exploring whether to pursue any recourse.

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Consider Walla Walla's new retail store signed, sealed and delivered.

Sweetwater Paper amp; Home has opened its doors on the corner of First Avenue and Alder Street.

The shop, owned by Robin Cosani, is located in the longtime home of Cox-Jones Insurance and most recently Banner Bank offices.

The shop offers an array of paper products, including more than 16 different lines of greeting cards, as well as stationary, party supplies, wine and dine accessories, candles, soaps and other products.

Cosani has drawn from her years in retail experience to develop a home-like interior at the shop that encourages the discovery of the items.

She said the selection of greeting cards includes something for every occasion. Holiday cards are coming soon, as are items for the cowgirl/cowboy of all ages. Hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more details call 522-8222.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 509-526-8321.

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