West Seattle mural mystery: Vandals’ tags finally, suddenly, unofficially cleaned up

blurredtag(WSB photo from February 2016 – we blurred the tag; in ensuing months, others were added)

A year and a half ago, we published that photo, with disheartening news: One of West Seattle’s historic murals had been vandalized in a big way. Other defacement followed. No official cleanup plan was finalized. But now, suddenly, unofficially, that mural – on the north side of 4740 44th SW, along the south side of The Junction’s southernmost free parking lot – has been cleaned up:

We got first word last night from Guy and Joy Smith, best known for sharing interesting news from Alki Point. They wrote:

We go to dinner at Elliott Bay Brewery every Monday night. We always park in the lot to the west of Northwest Art and Frame. We’re happy when we get there, but everything is ruined when we see the graffiti on the big mural to the south.

Last Monday when we pulled in the lot, there was a woman taking photos of the graffiti and we could tell that she was not a happy camper. We asked her what she was up to and she said she reached the boiling point with the ever-increasing graffiti. She was on a mission to do something about it. It turns out she is a muralist and she knew she could fix it. She also said she was afraid she might get in trouble for doing it. …

When we drove into the parking lot (last night), we were dumbfounded to see that there was no more graffiti on the mural and it didn’t show any signs that any had ever been there.

We had to see it firsthand to believe it – and indeed, there it was, or should we say, there it wasn’t. Our “after” photo was taken just before sunset last night.

Before publishing this, we checked with two people we thought might know something about it. Clay Eals, former executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, and Lora Swift, executive director of the West Seattle Junction Association. Guy and Joy said they had told the woman about taking a mural tour with Eals (who led several last year), and suggested she talk with him; she said she knew him. Contacted by us, he said he had seen the cleanup early Monday and wondered about it, but didn’t know for sure who was responsible. Swift, meantime, was completely surprised by the news. (Guy and Joy, meantime, said the artist had given them a name; we’re not publishing it unless we can confirm it, and so far, no response to our inquiry.)

Meantime, as Eals points out, while this is “a positive step,” the future of West Seattle’s murals – 20+ years old and showing wear, aside from the restored mural on the Junction Post Office wall – remains clouded. He wrote about it in summer of last year, after the aforementioned tours. The questions he asked at the end remain unanswered, and waiting for someone to step forward (aside from the Morgan Junction mural that has a restoration project in the planning stage).

P.S. If the rogue mural-cleaner is reading this, Eals and Swift both said they’re glad about it – so you’re not in trouble.

17 Replies to "West Seattle mural mystery: Vandals' tags finally, suddenly, unofficially cleaned up"

  • JanS August 1, 2017 (5:25 pm)

    kudos….this is wonderful…if the city won’t clean it up, it’s up to the people of the community, I guess. For whoever did this, a thousands thanks….you good Karma will follow you :)

  • SJ August 1, 2017 (5:56 pm)

    Thank you mural cleaner!

  • I. Ponder August 1, 2017 (6:16 pm)

    Fantastic! Thank you mystery muralist!

  • Wb August 1, 2017 (6:30 pm)

    Very cool. 

  • West Seattle since 1979 August 1, 2017 (7:16 pm)

    This is so cool! Thanks, mural-fixer!

  • Sho'nuff August 1, 2017 (8:04 pm)

    About time!  Now somebody needs to replace the stupid drive up mailbox on California.

  • JayDee August 1, 2017 (8:08 pm)

    I try to do the same with signs but paint over paint is hard…Kudos to the unknown muralist.

  • BJG August 1, 2017 (8:13 pm)

    Sometimes when you least expect it, nice things happen in our neighborhood. So happy to see this restoration. Thanks very much to the person who cared enough and had a plan!

  • Astrogirl August 1, 2017 (9:04 pm)

    You’re awesome mystery mural cleaner.

  • Kaye August 1, 2017 (9:22 pm)

    Way to go unknown person! !

  • West Coast Nomad August 1, 2017 (10:35 pm)

    How cool and thank you!

  • Kravitz August 2, 2017 (6:04 am)

    Thank you fellow artist, for giving back to the community and saving something that has meaning in this ever-changing (disappearing) city. 

  • S August 2, 2017 (8:02 am)

    I would love to see the fines for tagging skyrocket.  

    We need to hire more police.  I’d like less militaristic-style policing and more “on the beat.”  I love the cops on bikes and foot–talking and interacting with people.  I’m so appreciative when I see that.

  • A-Red August 2, 2017 (9:38 am)

    “Clepto” is perhaps the most prolific tagger in the city. I am not entirely opposed to urban graffiti–I can appreciate a good mural or artistic stencil–tags annoy the hell out of me. All that said, Clepto is the vandal I curse the most.


    I was in Schmitz Park last weekend and I noticed a couple of fresh, new tags from Clepto, and this time there was something more than just his/her “name.” There were two tags–one said “NRA” and the other spelled it out “Need Rehab Again Papa.”

    So while Clepto is, in my view, an annoying prat of a street vandal, if they’re asking for rehab, I for one am willing to pitch in. Trouble is, I don’t know where to start. 

    Can you help, WSB?

  • Deborah August 2, 2017 (12:41 pm)

    Thank you for stepping UP and repairing the beautiful/ historical mural!  I don’t need to know who you are to let you know how much your efforts are appreciated.

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