Co-op residents work to restore historic murals after vandalism

Nicole Stuessy

The walls inside the Pearl Street Cooperative are covered in murals painted by residents dating back to the 1960s, but four of those murals were vandalized when an external organization hosted an event Oct. 20.

“I was a bit sickened, really, at first,” biology senior Gabriel Borg said. “We let strangers into our house to have a good time, and then they don’t show any respect for it and put spray paint on our walls that have had murals on them for decades.”

Since then, residents of the co-op have worked to remove the graffiti tags and repaint the the murals, Borg said.

Borg said the process of fixing the murals will take at least two months.

“We have used some graffiti remover solvent, and we are going to match the paint and fix the tags as much as we can,” Borg said. “We have made some pretty good progress on one mural, but the others are going to be a pretty challenging fix.”

Members of the co-op did not contact Austin Police Department about the incident because they did not have any hard evidence, Borg said.

“We don’t have any footage of anyone spraying, we don’t know the person’s name and we didn’t get their ID,” Borg said. “So we just felt like there’s not really much that could be done in this situation.”

Residents consider the different sizes and styles of murals a tradition, with new ones still being added. Maintenance coordinator Alex Caruso said the vandalism was upsetting to him because the murals were what initially drew him to live at the co-op.

“They were the first things I saw when I got there, and I thought, ‘This is amazing,’” said Caruso, a student at Austin Community College. “It really hurt me when I saw the vandalism, especially being the maintenance coordinator, too, and now it’s kind of a project I’m working on.”

Undeclared junior India Davies said residents are working to fix the murals quickly so other people attending their events do not try to add more graffiti themselves.

“It’s just annoying because this sets a precedent for other parties of people coming in and then seeing the graffiti and thinking its okay to do it,” Davies said. “But this is our home, and it really hurts when someone comes in and destroys it.”