Mural artist ordered to remove controversial painting - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Mural artist ordered to remove controversial painting

Mural at Erskine and Boston Mural at Erskine and Boston

Some say it's graffiti. Others call it a work of art.

Now controversy is brewing and a neighborhood is divided over a mural painted on a building near Erskine and Boston.

The Guadalupe Economic Services Corporation owns the building. A spokesperson for the non-profit, Diana Lopez, says their property was defaced. The artist Joey Martinez says he was just trying to bring beauty to the street. It took him three days, 100 cans and more than 700 dollars of his own money.

"There are a lot of people that stop by, look at it and take pictures," said a nearby neighbor.

Before, that wasn't the case. The building featured a picture of Caesar Chavez vandalized with graffiti writing. Now it's an eyesore. The GESC plans to demolish the building in the coming months.

"I know the building is going to be torn down, but I just wanted to put something that the community can be proud of. I wasn't trying to do anything negative," Martinez said.

Martinez says he got permission in the past from someone who used to rent the building.

He describes the painting as, "a Day of the Dead, mixed with the Aztec culture. It's called the Mestizo."

Turns out Martinez needed permission from Lopez, which is why Stuart Walker with the City of Lubbock says they stopped him from painting Monday.

"Obviously, the first thing he needed to do is get permission; second thing he needed to do was come and contact us to make sure everything was up to code," Walker said.

Lopez says the skulls are offensive and wants the mural immediately removed.

Martinez says he was not trying to be malicious. He says his passion for graffiti art started in the neighborhood he grew up in.

"I saw a lot of gang graffiti. I wanted to cover it up with something beautiful instead of seeing something negative," he said.

And for the past 20 years in Lubbock, Martinez has been doing just that for South Plains College, the arts district and area businesses.

"I haven't seen any of his artwork yet that wasn't beautiful," said a man looking at the mural.

Right now Martinez is pursuing a graphic design degree at South Plains College. His professor commends his student for giving back to the community and teaching others the art of it.

"Vandalism is done quickly and you run. Here he stood for hours and painted," said South Plains College Design Communications professor Paul Davidson.

Martinez says once he comes up with the funds he will paint over his mural.

Once the building is demolished, Lopez says, they will build a computer lab for the community.  

Copyright 2012 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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