Defacing of Vincent Chin Memorial mural in Detroit's Grand River Creative Corridor
Earlier this year we contacted international street artist Andrew Pisacane also known as "GAIA" about creating a mural in the Grand River Creative Corridor (GRCC) in Detroit, Michigan. We were attracted to GAIA's talent and his ability to create large scale murals that shed light on deep-rooted civil rights history. GAIA suggested doing memorial mural of Vincent Chin and provided an in depth history of his life and eventual death. Below outlines the series of events from the organization, creation, defacing, and removal of the Vincent Chin Memorial Mural:
May 2014- Details of the mural were organized and confirmed. GAIA requested that we make contact with Vincent Chin's family to approve and provide their blessing of the mural. We were led to the "American Citizens for Justice", "a nonprofit 501c3 organization serving the Asian Pacific American (APA) communities of Michigan and fighting for the civil rights of all Americans. It was founded in 1983 after the baseball beating death of Vincent Chin." Details and imagery were sorted out then mutually approved. Artist travel itinerary, accommodations, supplies, equipment and mural location were confirmed.
June 18, 2014- GAIA arrived to Detroit.
June 19, 2014- GAIA met building owner, created conversation, and building owner gave his blessing. The building owner respected the idea of a memorial mural and related to the challenges Vincent Chin faced. GAIA met Detroit graffiti artist SINTEX, who had previously had a mural on the wall. (All of the GRCC walls rotate artists every 1-3 years. Several other walls have been successfully rotate without any conflict.) GAIA explained his mural concept and SINTEX gave his blessing by saying "I've had my mural on the wall for a couple years now and now it's yours".
June 19- June 23, 2014- GAIA created the Vincent Chin Memorial Mural.
June 23, 2014- GAIA departed Detroit.
August 6, 2014- Over 100 Girl Scouts visited and toured the GRCC and were educated on the history of Vincent Chin. (see attached photo)
August 9, 2014 at 6:37am- Derek Weaver, founder and curator of the GRCC, received a text message from Detroit graffiti artist "SINTEX" that stated "The mural in the parking lot got hit..looks like justo...blk buff line all thru it..signature justo ..or justd". Derek living only 15 minutes, away drove to the mural to find that the black paint was still wet and dripping. Derek decided to try and save the mural and washed 90 percent of the black paint off with a water hose. From there, several Detroit artists offered to help fix the mural and plans were scheduled to do so.
August 11, 2014- SINTEX told Derek that the wall needed to be repainted. Derek then explained the plans to restore the mural. SINTEX expressed frustration and disapproval.
August 12, 2014- Derek received a phone call in the late afternoon from SINTEX demanding he purchase a 5 gallon of black paint to cover the mural. SINTEX stated that he spoke with the building owner and received his permission to repaint the wall. Derek told SINTEX not to repaint the wall until Derek had an opportunity to speak with the owner directly and reminded him that the wall was scheduled to be fixed.
August 13, 2014 at 7:35am- Derek received a text message from another artist that said "Omg 1/4 of the gaia mural is buffed". Derek arrived shortly thereafter and discovered that SINTEX had “buffed” the mural overnight. SINTEX accepted responsibility via Facebook posts/messages.
August 14 to Present- Several claims and threats have been made by SINTEX via Facebook, Instagram, in-person, and Phone/Text. SINTEX removed and painted over the remaining wall and started painting his own mural. He made several mentions that it was his wall and Detroit is a “No Fly Zone” and GAIA never had the right to paint it.
The Grand River Creative Corridor and the 4731 Arts Incubator will no longer support SINTEX financially or personally, his art, housing, or work space.
SINTEX currently resides in the 4731 Art Incubator, located within the Grand River Creative Corridor. SINTEX was one of the lead artists in the early-age of the GRCC and painted 4 or 5 murals. SINTEX was provided a 6,000 square foot loft free of charged for 2 years. Recently, the City of Detroit inspected the loft and deemed it unsafe and uninhabitable for residential use. SINTEX was given notice in May of 2014 that his occupancy would be ending. SINTEX has made no indications of moving out of the loft.
GAIA is an international street artist based in Baltimore Maryland. He was invited to participate in the Grand River Creative Corridor and agreed to donate the mural to the community. GAIA visited Detroit at the end of 2013 to create a mural inside well-known Detroit business man Dan Gilbert’s parking garage. The mural was painted inside the “Z Garage” and organized by Matt Eaton of the Library Street Collective. GAIA has also participated in many other mural projects including Miami’s “Wynwood Walls”, Atlanta’s “Living Walls”, and GAIA also organizes a mural project in Baltimore called “Open Walls”. (GAIA’s full statement can be found at http://instagram.com/gaiastreetart)
STATEMENT FROM GRCC FOUNDER & CURATOR- DEREK WEAVER
“Public art is for anyone and everyone. It’s not restricted to the elite or confined inside the walls of an institution. It’s not about fighting over walls, murals, or creating conflict. It’s about creating a dialogue with the community…creating emotion, energy and positivity. The defacing of the recent Vincent Chin mural saddens all of us and is an indicator that the community in Detroit has some work to do. It shows that the “No Fly Zone” mentality still exists today and hinders the growth and the resurgence of the great city of Detroit. Our sincerest apologies to Vincent Chin, his family, the Asian American Center for Justice, and GAIA. We are happy we were able to provide the local community dialogue and enlightenment on the death of Vincent Chin during the short time the mural was up. We look forward to creating many more beautiful murals that help the community move forward.” -Derek Weaver
ABOUT THE GRAND RIVER CREATIVE CORRIDOR (GRCC)
The Grand River Creative Corridor, also known as “GRCC", is an art corridor and neighborhood revitalization project concentrated on Grand River Avenue between on a half-mile stretch just outside downtown Detroit, Michigan. Founded on July 15, 2012 by Derek Weaver, the project features over 100 murals on 15 buildings; an outdoor fine-art gallery at a bus stop; free-standing art installations; a cleanup of overgrown vegetation, trash, and vandalism; and an economic stimulus project for local businesses. The project involves over 100 local and international volunteer-artists and is an ongoing effort to transform Detroit’s infamous Grand River Avenue into a creative hub that attracts: tourists, artists, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and investors alike.
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