The Prestonsburg Police Department is searching for the person or persons responsible for vandalizing two canvases that were painted by community members during Star City Day on July 4.
Two large canvases were hung on the brick wall of a building as a community art project that was geared to be displayed throughout the city. The canvases were decorated by hundreds of people on Star City Day. They featured handprints of children and toddlers, paintings of the sun, flowers and other things, as well as numerous messages wishing people a happy Independence Day. Sometime after July 4, a person or persons spray-painted over the artwork, making some of it illegible, and also spray-painted pieces of block laying on the nearby pavement and sidewalk.
Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton said the police department launched its investigation on Wednesday, after the vandalism was reported. Surveillance cameras are being reviewed to determine the person or persons responsible, he reported.
“It’s just sad,” Stapleton said. “It’s sad that people feel like they have to do stuff like that. We had a good little thing going for kids there. They would get to come, look at their pictures, and now, we’ve got that.”
Artist Jenna McGuire said seeing the vandalism was devastating to her.
“I was devastated. I was heartbroken. I cried,” McGuire said. “I just cried because I knew how many people had put love into this, how many children had painted and were excited about what they created, the adults that contributed to this. I just, honestly, the feeling of everybody who put their time and their love into creating this for our community and for that day of celebration, and to think all of that was covered over and we can’t get that back.”
She said the project brought families together, with parents and children painting together on Star City Day.
She hosted the community art project as part of Star City Arts, which provided free paint for people of all ages to contribute. She said she was working with Prestonsburg Tourism to find locations to display the canvases in other areas of the city. Frames were being constructed to mount the canvases, she said.
“We created this in hopes to display it for the next month,” McGuire said. “These were local people’s artwork, children’s artwork, and if you can drive by and see something you’ve created, you feel happiness immediately, and that’s what we were trying to do, was to make it something that you could look at and smile.”
McGuire acknowledged that the person or persons who vandalized the canvases were “also creating.”
“I really feel like, if you look at it, it’s a way that they can express themself. It doesn’t have bad words. It’s not making fun of anything. They are also creating,” she said. “But then that leads me to feel like they still felt like their art was more important than everybody else’s, and I think that’s an issue within our society.”
She continued, “For some reason, they felt like they were more important than everybody else that contributed to this. And I would have loved to have them contribute on the day. I would love to set up something that they could contribute to. If their art is spray paint art, let’s find a place so they can do that, but to cover over everybody else’s stuff is just a sign of not really respecting each other, not respecting what was put there first.”
Any person who saw the vandalism take place is asked to contact the Prestonsburg Police Department at, (606) 886-1010.