West Asheville residents debate artistic merit of new mural on Orbit DVD



West Asheville residents are debating the artistic merits of a new mural being painted on the side of Orbit DVD. A comment thread on a popular Facebook page for West Asheville residents has nearly 500 comments, with posters arguing over whether or not the mural objectifies women.

Artist Austin Mikulka was hard at work on his mural Tuesday morning. He said his plan from the start was to simply paint a female form to fit the space he was working with. He said he was aware of the uproar, but that his idea from the start was to show a woman watching TV. Mikulka has painted wall murals on Altamont Brewing and Asheville Fungi.

Marc McCloud, owner of Orbit DVD, said he commissioned Mikulka to paint the mural spruce up the building. He said he doesn’t have a problem with the depiction of the woman, crouched on all fours and eyeing a television with a sloth atop it.

So what do you think?

Here’s an updated photo of the work in progress:



Nipsey Russell September 6, 2015 - 5:12 pm

Why is this so contoversnial? It’s not like they is a Plantagenet or an octonion. Sometimes I think dorsally, sometimes not so much. If?

Gabriel Shaffer July 3, 2014 - 9:19 pm

Seriously y’all, it’s too boring to be controversial. You’re all up in arms over a mediocre image.

Dondah-o July 3, 2014 - 8:06 pm

Cutting edge and original. I really wish there were more white slender woman in TV, ADs, music videos, and in murals. Said no one ever.

theOtherBarry July 3, 2014 - 11:28 am

Marc on WLOS, dismissing people’s objections:


I loved the mechanic watching from across the street with a big grin:

“What is this, porn or something? Hyuck-hyuck…”

“Six Things We Lose From Objectifying Women”:


RJ July 3, 2014 - 8:29 am

For the benefit of any other people like me, for whom the phrase “rape sloth meme” might as well be Finnish, Google those words then click the images tab. After viewing those images I think it becomes harder to dismiss the criticism as just another case of hypersensitive political correctness.

boatrocker July 3, 2014 - 4:42 pm

The movies I rent from Orbit- well I don’t care how they decorate. Their cinema choice speaks for itself.

boatrocker July 3, 2014 - 4:44 pm

I forgot to mention that the day I care about how West Asheville adorns itself, it will be a cold day in hell.

Z July 2, 2014 - 8:37 pm

Shit man, Orbit just reaped a boatload of free publicity from this non-event. McCloud is genius. And any twit who says or thinks the sloth is anything but a sloth is a BIG twit. If you are that insecure about yourself and your opinion about art, stay inside and never go out.

charlie g July 1, 2014 - 8:23 pm

This is vulgar. Females should always be drawn with straight lines and wearing trousers and ALWAYS vertically. Everybody knows sloths=rape.this is why I refuse to own Art. They always depict females being all Willy-nilly, akimbo, devil-may-care. Real women don’t evoke aesthetically sesual visualization. The painter outta be stoned for sure. We’re clearly better off not depicting females. Our culture is not suited to it. Or Mohammed. Yeah.

jenny July 1, 2014 - 7:01 pm

While I am still wondering how orbit video stays afloat (but that is another topic)..I have no opinion on the mural.
I may run over someone while driving as I try to figure out what the heck she is looking at, but otherwise it is just a girl with one big boob looking at a sloth.
I look at it once and move on.

D.Dial July 1, 2014 - 6:26 pm

I’ve no clue if Orbit or the artist’s intent was a sexist image…to me the mural is just weird looking.

D.Dial July 1, 2014 - 6:28 pm

It’s way out of proportion and not in a good “Picasso” kind of way.

Nate July 1, 2014 - 7:04 pm

Indeed, it’s more of an “I-draw-mostly-comic-books-and-don’t-really-understand-human-proportions” kind of distortion. The poor thing’s head is tiny and her butt is enormous, and she seems to be bowed down and worshipping the sloth, since it’s pretty clear that she’s not even facing the TV screen.

I’m not sure it’s offensive, exactly, but it’s definitely not *appealing* and I can’t imagine that it’ll be effective at drawing people in to the store, while undoubtedly driving at least a few away. I hope the owner didn’t have to pay the artist very much.

Timothy July 3, 2014 - 9:07 am

It is certainly more appealing and enticing that what was there before. Kudos to Orbit for commissioning some public art for the neighborhood.

Matt July 1, 2014 - 4:52 pm

This seems more suited as a decal on truckers mud flap…

But whatever, could be worse.

boatrocker July 1, 2014 - 5:40 pm

My thoughts exactly.

Sloth wise- you all do realize that sloths were considered just an animal in Nature before some people cared about memes, right? No animals were mistreated in the creation of this mural-thank goddess.

If every portrayal of the female form is considered objectification, somehow I’m guessing that a female form standing demurely wearing Victorian era high lacy collars, no ankles showing and about 30 layers of froo froo underwear would also be considered sexist as it reinforces traditional male standards of dress for women.

At least it’s not the cover of Spinal Tap’s “Smell the Glove”.

Hell, I’ve always considered Rosie the Riveter to be a blatant militaristic warhawk propaganda mouthpiece of the military industrial complex, but others call her a role model. I also consider Michealangelo’s David to be a denigrating male image as he purposely made David’s uh,”plumbing” proportionally smaller than would normally appear on a male. Unless he just went swimming, ala the Seinfeld episode.

On the FB site someone posted a pic of the pinup style art on the side of that River Arts District building as another example of artwork some find offensive. That WWII era stuff painted on the sides of bombers- well call me a sexist oinker, but I think its cute. The same way Beyonce can wear outrageous outfits to perform, photoshop her own pics to appear ‘perfect’ and then tell young girls never to be ashamed of their bodies and not to change how they look to satisfy anyone.

I’m actually more offended by an artistic portrayal of the Devil’s Eye, aka what oldsters used to call a television.

Nate July 1, 2014 - 7:13 pm

It’s true that sloths have an existence that pre-dates memes, but the fact that he’s drawn the same type of sloth as in the “rape sloth” meme, and shows it staring face-to-face at an attractive woman in what appears to be a subservient position, is at least a little bit suspicious.

Maybe the artist really had never heard of the meme, I certainly hadn’t before reading this page, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Now that it’s been pointed out, and given the possibility for misinterpretation and Classic Internet Outrage, wouldn’t the business (and the artist) be wise to ask for a new pitch and a do-over?

theOtherBarry July 1, 2014 - 8:46 pm

Somebody check me on this if I have it wrong, but this is something that I recall that might inform this issue.

About 10 years ago or so, the City/County held a competition to design a sculpture commemorating the famous 1943 flight of the B-17 Memphis Belle between the Buncombe County Courthouse, and Asheville’s City Hall.

“Nonetheless, when Morgan piloted Belle to an event in his hometown of Asheville, N.C., he brought the big bomber in low, barely skimming the roofs of downtown buildings and seemingly aiming for the city hall and courthouse. There was some space between the two buildings, but not enough to accommodate the 103-foot wingspan of the B-17. Just moments before Belle would have crashed, Morgan flipped her on her side and blasted through the gap — vertically. Some startled observers on the ground muttered that whoever was piloting the plane should be court-martialed.”

When the sculpture competition was over, one design was chosen. It was only after it was released, and people saw it that a horrifying picture emerged: the design was of two tall, thin rectangular columns, being sliced through at an angle by a large airplane.

I don’t recall who submitted this design, or who approved it – but when people outside the process saw it, it was clear the artist had unintentionally invoked the September 11 disaster, and the project was quietly scrubbed.

Perhaps the gentleman who painted this mural was unintentionally drawing on something horrible he saw online. I want to believe that – or even if it was completely a random accident – Orbit should recognize that this image evokes something awful, and they should give the artist a chance to paint something new.

boatrocker July 1, 2014 - 11:55 pm

Sorry Nate, but I do not consider the woman on the mural to be attractive. Not unless one lives on haywood rd (not capitalized) and prefers sex listening to the avett brothers. Nope.

david July 1, 2014 - 4:44 pm

Of course it’s art!!!

David Lynch July 1, 2014 - 3:12 pm

Hey folks, do you realize that the sloth symbolizes rape?
This is worse than objectification. The message of this mural is RAPE.
Know your memes: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/rape-sloth

Ex West Ashevillian July 1, 2014 - 4:52 pm

Why Orbit?

A rape sloth mural?


David the Neighbor July 1, 2014 - 9:08 pm
boatrocker July 17, 2014 - 12:21 am

Uhh, no high fives here, so you post on Mtn X’s website for the same complaint?


David July 1, 2014 - 3:01 pm

Did Ashvegas just jump the shark?

I am boycotting orbit because that picture is offensive to Bradypus variegatus everywhere. It’s clear by the look on its face that its trying to have its way with me.

Get a life people!!!

Harry July 1, 2014 - 2:37 pm

Biggest problem is the dress is too long and she has pointy titties.

Anne July 1, 2014 - 2:32 pm

While I dont know that the artist had the intent of depicting it this way, or if he or the owner of Orbit are aware, but there is a set of meme’s called “rape sloth” that are extremely deroggatory towards women. The subjects position along with the sloth certainly makes it an easy association to make though, and not the best for anyones business or reputation.

theOtherBarry July 1, 2014 - 5:04 pm

OK, yeah. I find this really creepy.

theOtherBarry July 1, 2014 - 1:21 pm

It definitely objectifies women.

But the weirder question for me is: what’s up with the sloth?

White Lightnin' July 1, 2014 - 11:57 am

The Purple One said it best:


dr fuzz July 1, 2014 - 11:11 am


if people are spending time debating this on Facebook then there is a serious plethora of free time that is being misused.

get off Facebook. plant a garden. write a song. eat a peach.

chris July 1, 2014 - 1:32 pm

Stay off of Ashvegas, for that matter.

dr fuzz July 1, 2014 - 1:55 pm

stay off the grass

Anna July 1, 2014 - 11:02 am

As if we aren’t surrounded by enough reminders that we live in a sexist, misogynistic society — we really need to debate whether or not this is art? Ugh! It’s anything but! And Marc McCloud “doesn’t have a problem with the depiction of the woman, crouched on all fours”? Then I certainly don’t have a problem taking my patronage elsewhere!

JT July 1, 2014 - 11:45 am

You can take your DVD purchases elsewhere, but you can not say with certainty that the mural isn’t art. Isn’t the whole deal with art that the viewer isn’t supposed to just “like” it, the viewer should feel something right?

dr fuzz July 1, 2014 - 1:55 pm

exactly JT.

chris July 1, 2014 - 2:29 pm

Technically, she’s on all threes, as she seems to have only one arm. Perhaps the sloth ate it. That could be why he’s smiling.

Chall July 1, 2014 - 4:47 pm

Great point, what’s up with the missing arm?

A-Mo July 2, 2014 - 7:38 am

It might actually be interesting if the second arm is reaching to turn on the tv.

chris July 2, 2014 - 8:25 am

Even better if a third arm is petting the sloth.

Fark July 1, 2014 - 4:58 pm

Just curious, is the Adorn Salon advertisement in the top right of this webpage also sexist?

boatrocker July 1, 2014 - 5:44 pm


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