Vandalized Art on Signal Box Draws Outrage

The original art as proposed to the city. Art by Breanna Brown.

A signal box at Steamboat and Veterans Parkway has been vandalized twice in the past week. Breanna Brown’s painting on the box was part of the city’s Art Signals program, which commissions local artists to paint the boxes around town.

But Brown’s piece drew negative comments on the Nextdoor app by area residents. It was soon painted over in white and then tagged over after that.

“Apparently people hated my box that much,” Brown wrote on Facebook. “I spent a month working on it and went over budget so that it would last a long time.

“The online community has been overwhelmingly supportive, and I can’t help but think that this issue and our feelings about it would have been largely discarded if this hadn’t been talked about throughout the online forums as it has.”

Brown’s art was painted over in white. Then this graffiti appeared. Image: Nick McCabe

Here’s what one Nextdoor commenter wrote:

“The exorcist looking thing is not right fir our community,” the commenter proclaimed. “It should at least be something our community is about. Wild Horses, Walking Dogs, bicycling but not mid town reno art.”

City of Reno officials said that they are shocked by what they are calling two acts of vandalism. City arts and events Manager Alexis Hill said that the city is looking into what happened.

“Our office is devastated,” she said. “It’s very distressing.”

Naomi Duerr
Councilmember
Naomi Duerr.

The city pays artists $500 for each box, and they paint about 20 a year.

City Councilmember Naomi Duerr said more outreach by city staff is needed when signal boxes get painted.

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“It’s human nature to want to know what’s going on your neighborhood and to have a say,” she said in response to questions about the vandalisim. “I think it’s a wake-up call to the city that the public needs to be involved. I’m not saying it’s okay or who did it or why they did it.

“You can’t go vandalizing city property. It’s not a good situation. Obviously, a lot of miscommunication somewhere along the line.”

Many online commenters were outraged by the vandalism. After somebody painted over Brown’s artwork with white paint, the box was tagged with messages saying that since the box is now white, it is safe, “white” art.

Some interpreted the message as racist while others said it was a sarcastic statement about the negative comments expressed on Nextdoor.

Duerr said that because the box had graffiti on it, it was quickly painted over again, this time by the city’s graffiti abatement crew. She added the artist may be able to paint there again or at another location.

“We are going step up our outreach and bring designs to the neighborhood advisory board,” she explained.

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Bob Conrad
About Bob Conrad 1087 Articles
Bob Conrad is co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company. He also works part time for the University of Nevada, Reno.

2 Comments

  1. This is why we can and will have nice things. To let these art terrorists get away with this is just wrong. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it but to destroy another’s work is just horrible. Another entitlement issue or has Antifa now arrived in our city?

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