VERNON - It’s an iconic mural many have stopped to gaze at over the past 15 years, but Monday, something else was turning heads.
The mural, which depicts a locomotive traveling over a trestle bridge, was vandalized with a series of obscene words, printed at the bottom of this article with viewer discretion advised.
Michelle Loughery painted the historical mural with 17 youths and says it’s never been touched by vandals before.
“It shows a lack of respect for the past; both for the history and the art. Just because you want to have your say, anger and destruction is never okay,” Loughery says.
She says the vandalism isn’t graffiti or tagging; it’s a targeted statement implying their art should be on the wall.
“What happened today is pretty educational. It shows there’s unrest between the young people and what the heritage murals in Vernon represent,” Loughery says. “A cry for help is coming from those teens.”
She believes multiple people were involved and might have even used her own paint.
“It’s very unfortunate the paint used is familiar to some I donated to community groups,” she says.
A strong supporter of engaging youths in street art, Loughery is taking something positive out of the act.
“Maybe the story is a good one; it’s obvious the kids want to be on the wall. They want a mural project and they want to have a say,” she says. “This is not the way to do it. If you want to have your say on a wall, you follow the same procedure other people do.”
In the past, Loughery has been known to hire graffiti vandals and give them a legitimate opportunity to participate in street art. She says some youths feel entitled to express their emotions in public spaces, and that has to change.
“You don’t have the right to paint your anger on public buildings,” she says. “There’s a business to being an artist. It takes skill, and this is just inappropriate and vulgar.”
She invites youths who want to get involved in legitimate street art to get in touch with her through the Wayfinder project, where programs and mentorship is available to young artists. You can email Loughery at wayfinderCanada@shaw.ca.
Gord Molendyk, spokesperson for the Vernon RCMP says vandalism is considered mischief and a criminal offense. When contacted, Molendyk was uncertain whether the file was under investigation by police.
WARNING: OBSCENE LANGUAGE
The vandalism on the mural:
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