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Restoration efforts start on damaged murals
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A restoration crew went to work on the “Cruising” mural Thursday afternoon damaged by a tagger who left a message scrawled across the art work. Mural coordinator Tom Wilson, right, works along side of volunteers Jana Kattenhorn and Charlene Carroll. Dave Cunningham, working on the hood of the old Chevy, read the story of the tagging and volunteered to help remove the paint. - photo by GLENN KAHL
With toothbrushes in hand, Manteca Mural Society volunteers took the first step in the tedious restoration of three murals in the downtown area that were struck by a tagger sometime Tuesday night.

Society President Norm Knodt said that the “Cruising” mural alone represented a $50,000 price tag in addition to the “Crown of the Sierras” depicting Yosemite National Park and the “Pitching Pumpkins” art work, both in the 100 block of North Main Street.

Gayl and Tom Wilson both worked Thursday morning removing much of the spray paint on the smallest mural located on the side of the PG&E building and a crew of four used tooth brushes on the “Cruising” mural Thursday afternoon.

The tooth brush approach was necessary because of the porous surface of the wall.  Workers were kept aware that it was possible they could get into the deep layers of the painting in their efforts – something they didn’t want to see happen.  In addition to the Wilsons there were Jana Kattenhorn, Charlene Carrol, and Dave Cunningham.

On Wednesday, after the damage was discovered, other volunteers Terri Pasquinni and Michelle Zachlod spent much of the day removing as much of the dried spray paint as they could get off with adding damage to the art works.

Knodt confirmed the estimated $10,000 cost figure in the restoration of the three murals, saying it could be more except for the volunteers who are coming forward to help.

“Other communities have murals, but we feel we have the best,” he said.  “There are quite a few people depicted in the murals who are still here, and they invested a lot of their time and research into this.”

While working on the Yosemite Avenue mural, Gayl Wilson explained it would probably be the most expensive to restore to its original elegance.  The original image was a water color that was digitized with a dot matrix printer using acrylics being installed in 10 panel sections.  The art work was by Dan Peterson of Ripon.

She said the damage to the painting must be analyzed to determine if it has lost its ultraviolet protective coating – a new coating may have to be added.

Manteca Police spokesman Rex Osborn said the Crime Stoppers organization is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for damaging  the art work.  Anyone may remain anonymous by calling 823-4636.