Vandals continue to damage Manteca’s marquee art endeavor — the downtown murals.
In the most brazen damage yet, vandals used markers to put face masks on all of the faces that appear on the “Crossroads” mural painted by muralist Dave Gordon. The mural is on the side of Century Furniture on the southwest corner of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street.
Unlike other murals that are set a bit off streets, the Crossroads mural is 20 feet high and runs for 78 feet abutting the edge of the sidewalk along Manteca’s heaviest traveled north-south arterial — Main Street.
The mural — the largest and first of an endeavor that has brought 32 murals representing an investment approaching $1 million to Manteca — was dedicated in 2003 to mark the 85th anniversary of the city’s incorporation.
Crossroads depicts what you would have seen 103 years ago roughly from the same vantage point from benches placed along the sidewalk near Bank of America. Its whimsical touches include a mural within a mural. It also incorporates a Century Furniture sign that extends over the sidewalk with a building within the mural to create a seamless work.
The vandalism — similar to what was done to the baseball mural at Library Park immediately adjacent to where homeless pitch tents west of the gazebo during the day and often in the evenings — was discovered Dec. 21.
The next day Manteca Mural Society President Ron Cruz and founding president Tom Wilson were doing the best they could to clean up the mess that was created. Due to the severity of the damage they had to use acetone to get rid of the markings. The society will need to retain the services of a muralist to reconstruct the faces.
Cruz said markings left with or near previous mural damage have had the words “meth monkey” carved into them of items such as benches at the interactive water play feature at Library Park. The damage to murals at Library Park cost the society more than $2,800 last year. Mural repairs from damage cost $1,300 plus in 2019.
In all the instances in the last two years, the damaged murals were in areas where homeless have been hanging out. The reason Cruz suspects the same vandals damaged the “Crossroads” mural is the adding of face masks that are identical to previous mural damage that has been done.
Store owner Sam Guedoir noticed Cruz and Wilson working on the damage and inquired what they were doing. They had already removed most of the face masks that had been drawn on the mural
Cruz explained what had happened, the need to secure the services of a muralist to repair the damage, and the high cost of the special sealant they need to recoat the mural to try and fend off severe damage.
Guedoir asked Cruz to go inside with him where he wrote out a check out for $500.
“Just like that he wrote out a check without being asked for a donation,” Cruz said.
It wasn’t the first time Guedoir didn’t hesitate to support what has become Manteca’s marquee art project and make a donation without being asked.
More than 18 years ago after scouting for the best locations preferably with an east facing wall for minimal sun damage for a suitable canvas for the first mural that would be key to developing community support, Wilson walked into Guedoir’s store.
Wilson explained the mural project and asked if the society could use the wall of Century Furniture for a mural celebrating Manteca’s history and culture. Wilson left that day with an unsolicited donation of $1,000.
“Art brings people together,” Guedoir said.
Guedoir is hopeful that others will step up and help the society anyway they can to repair mural damage by either matching his $500 or doing whatever they can.
“Every little bit helps,” Guedoir said.
Guedoir’s affinity for art was sharpened in his hometown of Mahares on the Mediterranean Sea coast of Tunisia. Mahares has hosted the International Festival of Plastic Arts every summer since 1988. It is attended by painters and sculptors from around the world who create art that is then permanently displayed in the town.
“Art is a unifier,” Guedoir added.
Guedoir has owned Century Furniture for a quarter of a century. He opened his doors in the former Brown-Mahin department store building in n1995 which is one among many years where people were writing downtown’s obituary.
For more information regarding the mural society and how you can donate to assist with mural repairs you can go to mantecamurals.org
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com