"Lady of Maryland Parkway" by ZAP 7 artist Lance Smith was painted over. Photos: Paint This Desert.
This isn't random vandalism. It’s deliberate censorship.
Public art on South Maryland Parkway has been vandalized and it’s not the usual suspects. There are no signs of territorial tagging. The boxes were painted over in an official-looking beige to whitewash an idea.
“It's shameful that someone decided to vandalize this public art,” says Chris Giunchigliani, Clark County Commissioner. “This piece was lovely and it wasn't tagged, it was completely painted over which shows someone personally didn't want it to be seen by the public.”
While the beige appears to match the original color of the utility box, the whitewash was not “done by the County or the box owner the Las Vegas Valley Water District,” said Michael Ogilvie, Public Art Cultural Specialist for Clark County. “It is an act of vandalism and a police report has been filed.” The investigation is still underway.
During the planning stages of ZAP 7, the Clark County Parks and Recreation funded public art program, an undisclosed business owner protested the design's use of a black figure, according to several sources. Clark County organizers supported Smith's concept, titled “Lady of Maryland Parkway.”
There was a message in this ZAP 7 public art commission, says artist Lance Smith. “Representation. I see it as imperative for people of color to see some semblance of themselves represented in the everyday.” There are still traces of left behind. Near the edges and door handles are traces of blues used by the artist. On a smaller box a painted perched bird is untouched.
ZAP 7 organizers will begin restoring the public art Friday.
ADD JUNE 16: "Business owner denies involvement in painting over Zap Project artwork" is the compelling headline in the Las Vegas Review Journal. F. Andrew Taylor reports:
The whitewash would not likely wouldn’t be prosecuted as graffiti, reports Taylor, "but as a gross misdemeanor for destruction of private property." Klein has been interviewed by The Metropolitan Police Department.
ANOTHER ADD JUNE 16: This whitewash of Lance Smith's mural was without a 90 day notice. which brings attention to how these works, as part of a public art initiative, may be protected by The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. They were commissioned with the intent of being public art, and the series of works have gained regional stature, destruction could be more than a misdemeanor.
ADD JUNE 22: KNPR interviews Lance Smith on the first day of the restoration of his public art. You can listen to it at KNPR.
Zap is a public art initiative that began in 2005 and is dedicated to beautifying the community with artwork done by local artists. A police report has been filed, and work will begin soon to restore the mural. If you have information that could identify the vandal or vandals, call Crime Stoppers of Nevada at (702) 385-5555. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if the information provided leads to a felony conviction. Graffiti costs the County $1.6 million a year.
Source: Clark County, Nevada.
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.