Lansing, Mich. (WLNS)– Flint-based artist Isiah Lattimore says he plans to restore a large mural honoring George Floyd along the Lansing River Trail.
The mural, which was painted in June under the I-496 bridge is part of the Lansing Art Gallery’s ARTpath 2020 project. The piece of artwork was defaced with white spray paint earlier in the week.
Several people made posts about the vandalism on Facebook, drawing attention from the community. Alissa McCoy was one of those people.
“That painting was a memorial here in our local community and to deface that mural, you are, it’s like tearing up the flowers off of a grave when people are still in mourning,” McCoy said.
Lattimore said he originally painted the mural for free, but in order to restore it, he would miss some days of work. The Lansing Art Gallery was working with him to help cover costs associated with repairing the art. That’s when people in the community stepped in.
A GoFundMe was created to help cover costs of restoring the mural, and at the time of this article’s posting, has raised more than $2,500.
“At this point, we’ve raised enough money that I want to try to make that mural even better and then we’re trying to secure a couple more location so I can put the reaming funds towards other projects,” Lattimore said.
The artist added he was more suprised by the community’s response than the actual vandalism itself.
“One of the things I really like about doing art in the public space is that it’s very much about that engagement, it’s about having that conversation with the public and sometimes that conversation can go poorly and that’s what you see. That’s someone’s reaction negatively. As the artist when I take that in, I don’t want to say you have to expect it, but you have to accept that some people do react negatively,” Lattimore said.
Lansing Art Gallery’s Executive Director Barb Whitney released a statement about the defacement of the George Floyd mural which reads, “Walk with Me was recently discovered with significant damage from white spray paint. This harmful alteration to the artwork is damaging to the spirit of the work and to the artwork itself. Each year, we attempt to prevent damage to artwork through intentional artwork placement, security, lighting, and signage. Despite these measures public art has at times been damaged, destroyed, or intentionally altered.”
The statement went on to say that a team from the art gallery is working directly with the artist as well as partners from the City of Lansing to repair the vandalized artwork.
According to the Lansing Police Department, there is an open Malicious Destruction of Property (MDOP) investigation on this incident. LPD is gathering facts (trying to find out when it occurred) on the case and attempting to find out who might have done it.
Public Information Officer Robert Merritt said investigators are looking at the general area attempting to see if there are any video cameras. Anyone with information should call LPD at (517) 483-4600.
Lattimore is expected to present his perspective at his mural on Tuesday, August 11, from 6 – 7 p.m. as part of the gallery’s series of Artist Talks.