Popular mural near Alex’s Bar vandalized, to be restored with community help

Artist Dave Van Patten’s iconic mural near Alex’s Bar was recently vandalized, and now the artist is looking to the community to help him restore the 5-year-old mural on the corner of Anaheim Street and N. Gladys Avenue.

According to a spokesperson from the Long Beach police, a group of unidentifiable male taggers spray-painted over the mural with graffiti at about 4:30 a.m. Friday, May 27.

The 60-foot mural, one of Van Patten’s largest, was created during POW! WOW! Long Beach in 2017 as part of its annual weeklong celebration that brings artists around the world to paint outdoor pieces of art all over the city. The piece is also a local favorite, earning first place (over 100,000 votes) in the mural category during the 2019 Best of Long Beach reader’s choice awards, a project led by the Long Beach Post.

Dave Van Patten’s 60-foot mural at Alex’s Bar in Zaferia was painted in 2017 as part of POW! WOW! Photo courtesy Dave Van Patten.

The “Alex’s Bar Mural,” as it’s referred to, took Van Patten and his team nine days to create, many of those spent working 12-hour shifts from morning until night, he said.

“So obviously it’s a bummer when people tag over it in five minutes,” he added.

Van Patten created a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of restoring the mural. The fund already exceeded its $2,000 goal and now clocks at $3,623. That money, Van Patten said, will cover paint supplies and time spent repainting the art.

In a touching stand of solidarity, Van Patten said he’s received dozens of messages from community members offering to volunteer with the restoration, which he has planned for Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26, from 8 a.m. until dark.

“The community is really standing up for this and insisting that art is an important part of the neighborhood,” he said.

Damage and graffiti to murals have become a more common occurrence in Long Beach, according to Cassandra Leeman, regional director of POW! WOW! Long Beach, who spoke of the issue in a June interview last year. The issue was so pervasive in 2020, she noted, that the organization devoted last year’s POW! WOW! to restoring nine of the city’s most popular pieces.

Long Beach Police spokesperson Richard Mejia said there is no additional suspect information at this time and the investigation remains ongoing.

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.
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