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Jimi Hendrix/Obama mural in Quincy Center vandalized with white paint

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  October 10, 2012 12:03 PM

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IMG950902.jpg(Photo courtesy of David Keville)

A controversial mural blending the likeness of President Obama and Jimi Hendrix was vandalized when someone splattered white paint on the face of the mural Tuesday night.

The mural made headlines in the last week, after city officials told the owners of the Presidents Rock Club that the artwork, which did not have a permit, needed to be removed.

Although the owners said they never authorized or commissioned the work, the restaurant faced a fine of $300 a day.

The demand to get rid of the painting, which urged people to “Rock the Vote” along with the Obama campaign symbol within the word “Forward,” caused outcry in the neighborhood, with residents even starting a petition to keep the mural intact.

Officials from the Quincy mayor’s office agreed with the enthusiastic patrons, and said as long as the work went through the proper permitting structures, it could stay.

David Keville, one of the restaurant owners, said he had begun the permitting process with his attorney, but now that all seems for naught.

“It kind of childish to be honest. It doesn’t make any sense for America to be considered a free country where people can express their own opinions, [but if] someone doesn’t like it, they can do whatever they want to,” Keville said. “I’m disappointed.”

According to Keville, he was at the bar until 9 p.m. Tuesday night and no one had touched the mural.

There are security cameras in the area that might shed some light on who defaced the artwork, but even then, Keville was unsure what next steps might be.

“I don’t know what the next move is,” Keville said. “Obviously the artist will be disappointed. I don’t know when he’s coming back – Christmas? But I don’t know what we can do until then, paint over it or rectify it, I’m just disappointed.”

The artist, who refers to himself as Brandalizm, did not return emails seeking comment.

Keville said there was even talk of permitting a second painting of the Republican Party to make the issue less partisan, but the wind has been sapped from his sails at this point.

“There was lots of brainstorming of how we can make this less partisan, and it seems like someone took that out of our hands, did what they thought was appropriate,” Keville said. “I need to talked to staff to see what people want to do.”

Chris Walker, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said Keville has many options, including speaking with the police if he feels the act is criminal vandalism, or talking with the building department or mayor’s office to see what can be done.

“Generally we do have a graffiti removal machine that does handle a lot of that. Other forms of vandalism, DPW crews will go out and fix things, the park department will go out and fix things - generally that’s public property. This is private property. [But] if he wants to have a discussion about it, our doors are open.”

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