Several Murray Hill murals vandalized weeks before mural festival

Several Murray Hill murals vandalized weeks before mural festival
The XøRobot mural at 813 Edgewood Ave. South was one of several vandalized.

Muralist Christopher Sweeney will be returning to Jacksonville but it won’t be for a new robot with heart painting. Instead, he’ll be here to repair graffiti damage to the popular 25-foot by 15-foot XøRobot mural at 813 Edgewood Ave. South.

The Murray Hill Preservation Association said the mural was vandalized March 7 with a vulgar image and the phrase “Make America.”

The Vero Beach elementary school teacher first came to Jacksonville in 2017 over his summer break to paint the mural. He returned earlier this year to paint a similar mural on the CareMax Pharmacy at 2789 Park St.

Outrage was swift on social media.

“This piece brought my son so much joy, he would ask to drive by it if he knew we were close,” wrote Anni Carroll. “Devastated that my child has developed a love for art by seeing the surrounding murals, and I will now have to AVOID it because of this crap.”

Amanda McDonald offered advice for an educational opportunity.

“If you’re up for it, take him by it and let him learn about the downside of art. Show him how not everyone can appreciate it the way he does and how it takes a special person to put the work in to create something that they know can be destroyed in minutes. Then, when it’s fixed, take him by again and show him how faith in humanity can prevail,” McDonald wrote.

Even the artist weighed in on the Facebook posts.

“Thank you, everyone, for your support. I want everyone to know I will be coming to Jacksonville the end of the month to put up a new XøRobot painting to fix/replace this one,” said Sweeney.

Two other murals were also tagged that night. A Mondrian-style mural by Nick Villalva, located at 845 Edgewood Ave. South, and a 3D mural by Jason Tetlak at 4560 Lenox Ave. were also vandalized.

Tetlak, MHPA president, said they are hoping to have all damaged murals fixed before the Murray Hill Mural Festival, scheduled for Saturday, April 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Several of the local artists who have created some of the 16 murals located throughout Murray Hill will be at the site of the former Edgewood Bakery for a meet and greet during the mural tour.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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