Some of you may have heard about the early October tagging incident on the “Water, Land, and Sky” mural on South Broadway in Monona. If you weren’t aware it may be because the defacement was merely a temporary act - it appeared early on a Monday morning and by evening it was gone. The artists, students and community members who supported, painted and loved this mural planned ahead to assure that, to the best of our ability, it would be protected from vandalism.

            Thanks to the help of the amazingly knowledgeable staff at Hallman Lindsay Paints, DAMA had the right product to put to the test.  Before we began installing spring murals we met with John Devries at Hallman Lindsay’s Sun Prairie headquarters to learn about anti-graffiti product options and to get a hands-on tutorial of proper application and removal of various types of graffiti. We took this knowledge to the shop and tested the products on different types of painted surfaces with various qualities of spray paint.

            We had two high quality products to choose from to protect our community murals. The first is a permanent layer that allows for most of the graffiti to be washed off of the surface without damaging the painted wall. The second, Okon Graffiti Barrier Coat, is a sacrificial layer that comes off with the graffiti.  This layer needs to be reapplied after each removal but when removed the original work was restored beautifully. 

            With research complete, DAMA artists applied two coats of this sacrificial anti-graffiti product to all 120 feet of the Monona mural. The product went on not long before “Water, Land, and Sky” was defaced along with area homes and businesses by what police believe was the work of gang members. The community came together once again and worked to restore the beauty of a mural that has come to mean a lot to many people.  Members of the Whitehorse family worked alongside lead artist Alicia Rheal, Hallman Lindsay west manager Nancy Stilwell, county workers and neighbors to remove the hurtful scrawl from a mural designed to honor the cultural heritage and history of Monona. 

            We wish that vandalism like this did not happen and as an organization DAMA strives to give troubled kids a paintbrush and a project in hopes of making a positive impact on young lives.  Our hopes are high that the work will be respected, but, when creating accessible outdoor murals like the one in Monona we need to be prepared for any eventuality.  We are grateful to Hallman Lindsay Paints for donating paint for our projects, sharing their time and knowledge and helping us to be prepared for the worst case scenario. 

- Amy Zaremba

DAMA artist