Angry Cleveland Community Looks to Restore Popular Mural

John Rivera-Resto's mural was months in the making [David C. Barnett / ideastream]
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Efforts are underway to restore a community mural that was vandalized on Cleveland's west side.  The huge wall-painting which celebrates neighborhood residents was sprayed with graffiti tags one night last week.   

John Rivera-Resto examines the destruction done to his popular art work along Clark Avenue, near West 25th.  He pauses at a scene depicting a couple of neighborhood elders playing dominos in front of a barbershop as some kids look on.  A huge splash of silver paint now streaks across the image.

"And this was one of the people's favorite, this little tableau," he says.  "This is going to be hell to restore.  You're almost going to have to repaint it."

Three years ago, Rivera-Resto and a crew of artists used a long, non-descript wall in Cleveland's Villa Hispana neighborhood as their canvas for this hyper-realistic painting, called "It's Up to Us".  It shows a derelict streetscape being fixed-up by community members.  Keisha Gonzales, who manages the local neighborhood development office says that the community is furious.

"But, as a result, that anger is also fueling action steps towards solving the problem," she says.

Sherwin-Williams has pledged to provide new paint and a crowdfunding campaign has been organized to help pay for lighting and other security measures. 

The last image on the wall is of a man and his small son, brushes in hand, painting over a wall of graffiti tags. John Rivera-Resto shakes his head at the irony, but says he's not dispirited.

"I can always paint a better one," he says.

The hope is to raise enough money by next Spring and enlist Rivera-Resto to begin the restoration process.


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