A public art mural on San Benito Street has been "tagged" — or defaced with spray paint — in an act of vandalism that may be traced back to the perpetrator who bragged about his "work" on the social media platform Instagram. The mural is about a year old and the result of a collaboration of local artists with a donation from the Community Foundation for San Benito County, which paid for the art supplies, according to a BenitoLink article from Jan. 28.
Local artist Rolan Resendiz said he discovered that the alleged vandal "has an Instagram account dedicated to all his graffiti. Someone found him on Instagram and told us. He posted a pic of our mural he defaced and claimed he did it," said Resendiz.
"One of the artists (Adam Valentino) who worked on the mural found it. He specializes in aerosol (graffiti) work. I'm assuming he searched what the guy tags and his name was as a hash tag, because he hash tagged it on that picture," Resendiz said. "People (who saw what he had done via his Instagram account) were giving him crap after my post so his account is now private." According to the social media sleuthing, the alleged perpetrator is named "Miguel" and hails from Los Angeles.
As struggling artists themselves, Resendiz and his partner, Joel Esqueda, said they preferred to utilize restorative justice and invite the perpetrator to help repair the damage he's done by defacing public art and help channel his talent in a beneficial way to the community.
"He's a young kid," Resendiz said. "He wants to be creative and I want to support that, but I'd like to if I can reach out to him and show him that he can be creative without breaking the legal law and code of ethics between artists. I feel like he needs a creative outlet, but his actions are a little misdirected. I wouldn't mind trying to talk some sense into this kid and collaborate with him. It looks like he's from L.A. He might be here visiting."
And of course, there is a tangible as well as an aesthetic value to the public art mural on San Benito Street. Resendiz estimates the dollar value of the mural, if it were commissioned by a benefactor, to be between $5,000 and $10,000.
"It took us a month to do," he said. "Three main artists worked on it off and on. We generally charge about a $100 a day for a piece like that. The Community Foundation donated $500 in supplies. It's a big piece. If each artist was out there every day, which they were not, I'd give them each $100 a day plus materials. We didn't really track hours, the artists donated their time to complete the project," he said.
Since the mural was completed earlier this year, Resendiz and Esqueda started a local art business called "ARTI-Culture" at 910 Monterey St. in the old Hazel Hawkins Hospital building. The new office is under construction and is scheduled to open early in 2017. They have been contracted to create artistic works for First 5 San Benito and other businesses in the community.
The defaced property is expected to be repaired in a week or so by the same artists who completed the work. If community members are aware who is responsible for the tagging, Resendiz said to let the person know there are other artists willing to help him express his artistic creativity in such a way so that he won't run afoul of the law.