GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An ArtPrize artist is asking people to be respectful after he says he found his mural vandalized.
Arturo Morales Romero, a Grand Rapids artist competing in the art competition for the third time, believes it happened overnight Sunday. He returned to his piece, located at MeXo, and found white paint splatter across sections of it and the restaurant’s parking lot.
“People that do this kind of vandalism, they probably do it for the fun of it, but I believe they need to stop and think,” Morales Romero said.
Morales Romero believes someone climbed scaffolding and took paint he left behind. While he’s grateful no one was hurt, he said it was disappointing because of the hours he put into the mural, which he estimates to be 228 hours.
He now thinks it will take an additional 20 hours to fix what was damaged.
The piece, called Aztlan, is meant to show, “the richness of pre-Hispanic and present day colors, cultures, arts legends, fusion of cultures and ethnicities after the Spaniard conquest.”
“We start with civilizations that started in 1500 B.C. and then it runs all the way to the conquest by the Spaniards and all the way up to the present, which is 2021,” Morales Romero said. “By knowing the history, that is knowing your neighbors and that’s what I am, your neighbor. If we don’t know each other, that will be very hard to get along.”
There are security cameras directly facing the mural from the building across the parking lot, but it’s unknown if they caught anything.
It’s the second incident during this year’s ArtPrize.
Last weekend, someone took another artist’s canvas in front of Mojo’s Dueling Piano Bar and Restaurant. Police eventually found and returned the piece.
ArtPrize did not respond to a request for comment about Morales Romero’s alleged vandalism, but sent a statement last weekend saying that unless a piece says it’s okay to touch, visitors should not handle ArtPrize entries.
“Every hour that I’ve been spending over here is time that I could’ve been spending with my family,” Morales Romero said. “I’m over here trying to paint something for people in the community and yet some people in the community are doing this.”
Anyone with information can contact Grand Rapids Police at (616)456-3400 or submit a tip online by clicking here.