Two artists send message to person who vandalized mural of former president Barack Obama

Artists frustrated after murals vandalized

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Two murals in Smithfield were vandalized causing the artists who created them to vow to restore them.

They’ve never met before, G. Bodile Balams and Darryl Grant are now like old friends brought together over unfortunate circumstances.

Two murals in Smithfield were vandalized causing the artists who created them to vow to restore them.
Two murals in Smithfield were vandalized causing the artists who created them to vow to restore them. (Source: wbrc)

“It’s just unfortunate because the lack of appreciation for fine art,” Balams

“It just takes all the air out of you,” added Grant.

The pair created two murals, more than 10 years apart; Balams in 2004, Grant in 2017. They painted them on the side of a building on Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd in Smithfield.

Grant painting the mural of former President Barack Obama in 2017.
Grant painting the mural of former President Barack Obama in 2017. (Source: wbrc)

Someone took a can of black spray paint to both pieces; on one, writing the words: I am versus I was. On the other mural, of former President Barack Obama, the person used black spray paint to draw a beard on Obama and blacked out Grant’s signature along, with his co-creator Melissa King’s name.

Two murals in Smithfield were vandalized causing the artists who created them to vow to restore them.
Two murals in Smithfield were vandalized causing the artists who created them to vow to restore them. (Source: wbrc)

“It’s unsettling,” sighed Grant.

Grant said the mural took six months to complete. He said he hoped it would be special to the neighborhood.

“You know, something beautiful,” said Grant.

However, Grant said this is the second time someone has vandalized the mural in a matter of weeks.

“Grant: About two months ago, [we] fixed it. We got rid of the beard and repainted the face and they came back. They made it even darker.”

On the other side Balams pulled away at the chipping paint and reflected back nearly 15 years ago when he collaborated with city leaders and the community to create the mural.

Two murals in Smithfield were vandalized causing the artists who created them to vow to restore them.
Two murals in Smithfield were vandalized causing the artists who created them to vow to restore them. (Source: wbrc)

Balams said this was the first time his artwork has been vandalized.

“This should never happen,” said Balams.

A neighbor is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest.

“It’s a good feeling to find out that a lot people in the community have built up an appreciation for it,” said Balams.

Neither Grant nor Balams are sure of who is to blame but vow to continue restoring the murals as long as they can.

Two murals in Smithfield were vandalized causing the artists who created them to vow to restore them.
Two murals in Smithfield were vandalized causing the artists who created them to vow to restore them. (Source: wbrc)

“We’ll get it all straightened out and bring it back to life. And, create some more awareness about the importance of art,” said Balams.

“We won’t be defeated, no,” said Grant.

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