County grant gives mural project a second chance
Monday, 02 July 2012 13:02

DRC claims first muralists never fixed problem

by Ben Boehl

    It began as an enhancement to the beauty of downtown Dundalk, and a monument to the community’s history. Time, and the elements, quickly turned it into a well-intentioned eyesore.
    Now, the problem can be remedied.
    The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation (DRC) has finally secured the money to get rid of the peeling mural on the wall of Turk’s Cleaners at 18 Dundalk Ave.
    The DRC wanted to boost morale in the area so it came up with the concept of designing a mural on vacant walls of businesses in the Dundalk area. The DRC decided these murals could be a great source of pride for the community.
    A mural was created at Turk’s in the summer of 2010 by  Kirk Seese of Bella Benvenuti LLC, but it started peeling last year and has progressively gotten worse.
    “When most people paint a mural, you expect it to last at least five years. Some last 10 years,” said DRC executive director Amy Menzer.
    The DRC wanted Seese to fix the problem. According to Menzer, Seese was contacted about the problem and he promised to address the issue but never appeared.

    “My intention was to work on it and fix it, but I got out of the business of designing murals,” Seese said in a phone interview.
    Menzer added the DRC contacted other muralists and experts and many believe that the artwork started to peel on Turk’s wall because a primer was not applied.
    Seese responded that he used an exterior primer and a polyurethane primer after he power washed the wall and doesn’t understand why the mural started to peel.
    “I used it (the primers) before. I don’t understand what happened,” Seese explained. “It’s unfortunate; I’ve had a good track record. This is the first problem I’ve encountered.”
    That led the DRC  to file a complaint about Seese and his company with the Better Business Bureau. The DRC couldn’t take legal action because they had no warranty.
    Menzer said the DRC paid Seese $10,000 for the project, but muralists don’t sign warranties because weather conditions can cause natural damages.
    “I want to apologize to the community of Dundalk,” Seese said, but added that he can’t afford to refund the money. “I’m not in the position to do that.”
    This meant the DRC was on its own with paying for replacing the old mural with a new one, but didn’t have the funds — until now.
    The DRC recently announced that it had received a grant from Baltimore County and that a new mural will be installed on Turk’s wall.
    “The DRC has been working hard to address the condition of the wall since problems with peeling were first observed .... which led us to conclude that the previous mural needed to be removed and a new one put in its place,” the DRC said in a written statement.
    The grant money will be used to pay Edward Williams, a Catonsville resident, to redesign the mural. Residents in the St. Helena area are already familiar with Williams’ work; he created the mural at the community center.    
    “We are excited because the funding is great and Edward has done a mural in the community before,” said Leah Bunck, DRC Community Projects Coordinator.
    Williams said he is working out the details of the design but should get started in the coming weeks. He estimates that it will take a few weeks to complete the project. Of course, the old mural has to be removed.
    “The Dundalk group (the DRC) is going to power wash the old paint off. At that time, we are going to use a primer,” Williams explained.