In Arts & Entertainment

The vandalism happened some time during the night or early morning of Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Controversial mural gets vandalized

A controversial mural in Black Cat Alley on Milwaukee's East Side was vandalized last night, according to Kristin Godfrey, executive director of the East Side Business Business Improvement District.

The mural depicts a black man in an orange prison uniform and many leaders and community members found it insensitive and reinforcing of a negative stereotype. The artist, Adam Stoner, says he intended it to be sharp criticism of mass incarceration and the violence that ensues in poor communities.

The mural, which is currently covered in black spray painted lines, will be repainted in solid orange later today or tomorrow. The estimated value of the mural was $10,000.

Godfrey says she is heartbroken, professionally and personally, because after a series of conversations with leaders and citizens there was a plan in place to swap out the mural in spring of 2018 – when the weather became warmer – with something else.

"We were listening, we were having conversations, we were making changes," says Godfrey. "We also take the defacing of public art very seriously and will provide more safety measures going forward."

Police are investigating the vandalism and working toward finding the responsible individual or individuals.


Trish Hundhausen | Nov. 7, 2017 at 2:15 p.m. (report)

An artist friend told me that he once painted a portrait of a woman. She was so upset by the portrayal that she slashed the painting. He didn't know whether to feel insulted or to take it as a compliment. While I think it's a terrible shame that this mural was destroyed in such a way, it certainly makes a statement. It was a great piece. It still is. And the notion that it bothered someone enough to act thus is not surprising. It would be very interesting to learn about the vandal and the motive behind the act. I read both raving reviews and criticisms upon completion of the work. Good art is never boring, and often, it is controversial. It should evoke something. It should get your attention and create a response. Additionally, the truth can be hard sometimes, but it doesn't make it any less true. I would call this piece a success.

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