You may have heard me talk about the protective anti-graffiti coating that was put onto a mural on an exterior wall at street level on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, CA with 100% access by tourists etc. and how it has survived over the last decade and a half in excellent condition, with no graffiti that remains on it for more than a few hours because of an active neighborhood interest and action committee.
This is another case of the same thing. This mural of whales and dolphins in Santa Monica California, painted by Daniel Alonso in 1983 has been tagged many times and I can tell that some attempts of remove graffiti have damaged the paint in some areas. But the protective anti-graffiti layer that is on it now gives us a decent chance to remove the tag without damage. I just took 5 tags off this mural a Sat or two ago for the City of Santa Monica. Cuedos and compliments to Naomi Okuyama, Cultural Affairs Supervisor for the City of Santa Monic for a job well done to respond decisively to keep Santa Monica’s murals from looking like a backdrop of a movie of the zombie apocalypse.
An important thing to remember if you are wanting to protect outdoor public art is that: 1. there are 6 or 8 different kinds of spray paint that vary in difficulty to remove; 2. a lightly sprayed tag is easier to get off than: 3. a heavily applied tag; so its logical that multiple tags on top of each other are harder still to remove without damaging the artwork; 4 an anti-graffiti coating gives you more options for safe removal but it is not a magic barrier that graffiti does not stick to.
In addition to the anti-graffiti layer, a part of the successful recipe for keeping the mural free
of defacement is a neighborhood watch and awareness and AS SOON AS a tag is noticed, someone jumps into action with a microfiber rag and a bottle of GooGone and removes the offender’s fooey. In this case, local residents called the city cultural affairs office (but the Beautification Dept or Public Works might handle this kind of thing in your community) and they called me immediately. The 5 tags we removed were on the mural for less than a week.
Any questions? But, here’s a questions for you: If you have a mural (or other public art with paint on it) that is not in danger of being tagged, do you still need to varnish it? Here’s a quick video to show you something interesting: https://www.fineartconservationlab.com/murals/does-a-mural-need-varnish-if-graffiti-is-not-a-problem/
Call Scott M. Haskins and Virginia Panizzon, veteran art conservators, for a free consultation to discuss your situation and questions. 805 564 3438 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bolo Jesus or The Word by Kent Twitchell has not been in danger of graffiti on the Biola campus in La Mirada, CA but the mural was thoroughly coated to protect against hydrolysis: https://www.fineartconservationlab.com/murals/does-a-mural-need-varnish-if-graffiti-is-not-a-problem/