Kurt Vile Mural Randomly Buffed; Instagramers Catch Culprit In Action

Mural Buffed

UPDATE (6/29/14, 2:30 PM): The alleged buffer posted a response to our article, essentially apologizing for his actions.  A portion of his comments follows (see full comment below):

“Hello everyone, I am the idiot in the picture. Let me start off by saying I Love Philadelphia, I love my neighborhood and I love Art. I am completely committed to supporting legal street art, publicly funded art and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. But what I did yesterday was the most stupid and selfish thing I have ever done. I think I literally had a mental breakdown and lost my mind there. Thank you to Dashiki for having the courage to step to me and try and talk some sense into me to get me to stop. I was so angry when he was talking to me that I didn’t listen to a word he said.

I kept yelling at him “have people ever painted on your house?”


After I cooled off I did some research into both Kurt Vile and the Artist who painted it. Then I felt like more of a moron. I sent both apologies to him and ESPO. Before any of this became public."

He claimed he contacted Kurt Vile and Steve Powers, offering his apologies and extended an opportunity to fund a re-painting of the mural.  We've reached out to Steve Powers for a response; as of this update, our emails haven't been returned.

Philly journalist Leah Kauffman just posted an interview with local DJ Lee Mayjahs to her Facebook. In the interview, Mayjahs says he's the one who painted over the mural, and that the comment referenced above (and posted to this article) was indeed him.

***

ORIGINAL: If you were a fan of Steve Powers's Kurt Vile mural in Fishtown, you're out of luck.  This morning, a man (described by Instagram user @dasheikee as an "ignorant piece of shit") randomly painted over the mural, claiming that the piece of artwork "brought graffiti to the neighborhood."

Of course, the good Instagram users of Fishtown didn't let this go down quietly and captured the culprit red-handed.  Check out some of their snapshots below:

Here's a video of the mural's creation set to "Wakin' on a Pretty Daze." (h/t Consequence of Sound)

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Tark Blimtrep

    What a POS. Don’t let him near the Art Museum. Nothing stinks more than white trash like this.

  • Diane Kramer

    Apparently he thinks only his observation matters. He should focus on things that matter. Just a pompous ass! I guess he doesn’t have many “Pretty Daze”

  • Leanne Washington

    This is a shame and a loss. Really that’s vandalism and a criminal act. Are police arresting? Were they called?

  • Kemray Oshe

    I hate this dude.

  • Sir

    I have to agree with painter-man. All those murals in Philly are nothing but legalized graffiti and an indicator that the neighborhood is is going down. Next will be nail salons and then massage parlors and, well let’s just say if you’ve in Philly for any length of time you know the drill.

    • nick

      you sir are an idiot. Philadelphia has the worlds largest urban mural arts program. it captures not only the spirit of philadelphia, but also sets us on the world stage for others to try and imitate. so much of that art is not only created by Philadelphians but also world renowned artists. so go crawl back into the troll hole you climbed out of.

      • Sir

        Having “the biggest” doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. How about the buggest STD clinic? How about the biggest Drug Rehab?

        • Nick

          once again you prove yourself to be nothing but a troll with an ignorant opinion. it is world respect and envied for it’s wonderful impact it’s had on Philly. if you can’t see public art as a good thing you need to move away and never come back. philadelphia does not need you.

        • tiptreejr

          Yes, having the biggest idiot, admittedly, isn’t a particularly good thing.

    • Neil

      I was surprised to see graffiti everyone in Europe and the Middle East. He’s just a graffiti artist. Travel the world and you’ll see street art like this everywhere. It’s not this dude’s place to make the decision for the citizens and taxpayers.

      • Sir

        Using that logic then I guess we should have bombed out villages and active war zones. Oh, wait a minute, we have Philly! Skip that. It wasn’t Kurt Vile’s place to force his art on us.
        Again, it’s an indicator of the fact that the neighborhood is going down and a relatively cheap way to “pretty it up”.

        • GlassJawn

          Ummm you must be over 50. Fishtown is anything but declining. You comparing Philly to a war torn country just proves your sad arbitrary mind is more fitting for the philly.com comment section.

          • Rick Knowlton

            No, no the fact that property values have increased by three, four, even fivefold is pretty indicative that this place is going down the drain. With what, less vacant lots, less abandoned buildings, tighter regulations on housing codes, a burgeoning business and arts district. Like I said, it’s going down the drain. Actually, reading that again, nope I’m wrong… but still… yeah uhhh I guess I just don’t like all these “hipsters” or “yuppies” or whatever because so and so says I shouldn’t. Just a bunch’a liberal, hippie, left-wing, nutjobs! #!@#%%$%(=^-ω-^=)

          • Sir

            Yeah, OK. Maybe you need to get out more.

    • Tjmac

      Sir- you’re an idiot

      • GlassJawn

        To Sir it’s spelled “your a idiot”.

        • Tjmac

          Proves my point. Take an English grammar course.

          • Rick Knowlton

            I believe that was sarcasm.

    • Tark Blimtrep

      I’ve lived in Philly my entire life, and I seriously doubt you’ve even visited the city since your suburban elementary school’s Zoo trip.

      • Sir

        Lived there for 20+ years.
        Anything else?

        • GlassJawn

          Bustleton is not the city.

          • Sir

            I think I visited there once or twice but never lived there.

          • KD

            “old, tired and retired, State College PA” is Sir’s profile. Explains it.

  • bagels

    the guy appears to have graffiti tattoed on his right arm….maybe we need to have THAT removed too :-)

  • Dumb Buffer

    Hello everyone, I am the idiot in the picture. Let me start off by saying I Love Philadelphia, I love my neighborhood and I love Art. I am completely committed to supporting legal street art, publicly funded art and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. But what I did yesterday was the most stupid and selfish thing I have ever done. I think I literally had a mental breakdown and lost my mind there. Thank you to Dashiki for having the courage to step to me and try and talk some sense into me to get me to stop. I was so angry when he was talking to me that I didn’t listen to a word he said.

    I kept yelling at him “have people ever painted on your house?”

    After I cooled off I did some research into both Kurt Vile and the Artist who painted it. Then I felt like more of a moron. I sent both apologies to him and ESPO. Before any of this became public.

    This is what I said to Kurt: “Kurt, you don’t know me and I really am just discovering who you are. But, I have to tell you I did something really stupid today. I live in Fishtown 1 block from where your set of tags are on the wall in the parking lot. I have lived in this area in Fishtown since 1999 and in Philly since 1991. I am a
    homeowner and a property owner that has been trying to make the community a better place for at least a decade by cleaning up trash and painting over graffiti
    when I can. I am not against graffiti and when I was teen in the mid 80s I was
    a graffiti writer myself. Eventually I was caught by the police and that put an
    end to my painting on other peoples property days. When you get a little older
    and own property, the day in and day out struggle to keep your neighborhood
    clean can start to drive you a little mad. I have been struggling to keep the
    parking lot there clean and the adjacent alley, and it is an ongoing never-ending
    battle. And unfortunately, in my mind, I have felt that that your tags on the
    wall there have attracted other painters to that area and the amount of
    graffiti we have had to deal with since then has increased ten fold. I have
    been wishing for months and months that someone would come paint over the tags
    there. Today I lost it and went and painted over them. A man stopped me and
    told me that the tags were painted by a famous artist and were a commissioned
    piece. I was angry at first but then the more and more I think about it I feel
    like a complete schmuck. I became a vandal again myself. I became what I
    despised. I knew nothing about you, but today I went to your face book site and
    saw your profile page. There was your image of your art. I realized that having
    that work painted was the culmination of a dream for you. And I just destroyed
    that dream, I am so sorry. I also did some more research and found out the art
    was done by ESPO. I ran in the same circles as him about 20 years ago and have
    maximum respect for his work. I feel like such an ass. I just sent him a
    message on his website but it was the only contact info I could find. If you
    have a better way for me to contact him let me know. Again, I am sorry I caused
    all of this, I will pay for ESPO to come back down and repaint. Thank you.”

    • Chaz Brown

      When you put it like that…

    • howdy

      I’m at least glad you sound 100% remorseful for what you did. I’m even happier that you won’t be coming back to destroy the rest of the mural. I have to admit, this really, really upset me yesterday (and still does) as Kurt’s album this mural was painted for means a lot to me, and others. It was nice to know that mural, which I think has the potential to become an iconic image in rock history (and still does – once it’s repaired), was located in the city I call home.

      At any rate, thanks for coming on here to explain your actions.

    • gd

      looking forward to making some new street art with his image

    • David Chang

      I’m a writer for NBC10.com. Would you be willing to speak to us? If so, please email us at PhillyWebTeam@nbcuni.com or give us a call at 610-668-5565. Thank you.

    • Catherine

      I applaud you for having the courage to post here. You’re trying to make things better and to right the wrong you did. It takes courage to do that. Don’t listen to the idiots that will try to shout you down. I promise, ultimately, nothing but good will come from this! Good luck and love…

    • Al Satan

      I think you wussed out. You should have stuck to your guns. This isn’t a mural. It’s a paid ad. All it was doing was attracting 30 year old hipster graffiti.

  • 9.14 Pictures

    We documented the making of the mural. You can watch it here:

    • artsyndicate

      Another street artist once said “ive stopped looking at the public art that currently exists..but now i am drawn to look at the public art that was once there…”

  • Phl

    Just because this guy apologized shouldn’t mean that he’s off the hook. Steve Powers is a world renowned artist and I’m pretty sure that the mural was a commissioned piece. The guy should be charged with vandalism. Can you imagine if anyone and everyone could paint over the murals in this city just because they don’t like them? This should not be tolerated.

  • Diane Kramer

    I agree that he lost his mind! It does not look like graffiti it is beautiful and everything about it conveys happiness and beauty and a positive message. It is art in its purest form!

  • Laura Zamora

    !!! How To Get Your BEST CURE TO YOUR HIV AND AID Immediately !!!

    I have been suffering hardship from HIV/AIDS since 7yrs now, and i happen to have 2 kids for my husband, and now we cannot proceed to have another kids all because of my disease and now i have do all what a human like i and my husband can do just to get my disease healed, i have went to several places to seek for help not even one person could ever help, until i melt a comment on the daily news paper that was commented by CLARA about how this powerful doctor help him get cured of the disease (HIV-AIDS) ” my fellow beloved” i firstly taught having a help from a African doctor was a wrong idea, but i think of these, will i continue to stress on these disease all day when i have someone to help me save my life?” so i gather all my faiths and put in all interest to contact him through his Email address at (habelhomecenter@gmail.com), so after i have mailed him of helping get my disease cured, he respond to me fast as possible that i should not be afraid, that he is a truthful and powerful doctor which i firstly claimed him to be. So after all set has been done, he promise me that i will be healed but on a condition that i provide him some items and obeyed all he said. I did all by accepting his Words fact and only to see that after some weeks of taking his herbal medicine i notice some changes in my body system and i went for check up the day he ask me to go for check up to confirm if the sickness was still there,to my greatest surprise i could not find any sickness in my body i was first shocked and later arise to be the happiest woman on earth after i have concluded my final test on the hospital by my doctor that i am now HIV- Negative. My papers for check are with me and now i am happy and glad for his miraculous help and power. With these i must tell everyone who might seek for any help, either for HIV cure or much more to contact him now at these following email now, Email: (habelhomecenter@gmail.com) sir thank you so much for your immediate cure of my disease, i must say a big thanks for curing my disease, i owe you in return. Thanks and be blessed sir Natasha

  • Laura Zamora

    !!! How To Get Your BEST CURE TO YOUR HIV AND AID Immediately !!!

    I have been suffering hardship from HIV/AIDS since 7yrs now, and i happen to have 2 kids for my husband, and now we cannot proceed to have another kids all because of my disease and now i have do all what a human like i and my husband can do just to get my disease healed, i have went to several places to seek for help not even one person could ever help, until i melt a comment on the daily news paper that was commented by CLARA about how this powerful doctor help him get cured of the disease (HIV-AIDS) ” my fellow beloved” i firstly taught having a help from a African doctor was a wrong idea, but i think of these, will i continue to stress on these disease all day when i have someone to help me save my life?” so i gather all my faiths and put in all interest to contact him through his Email address at (habelhomecenter@gmail.com), so after i have mailed him of helping get my disease cured, he respond to me fast as possible that i should not be afraid, that he is a truthful and powerful doctor which i firstly claimed him to be. So after all set has been done, he promise me that i will be healed but on a condition that i provide him some items and obeyed all he said. I did all by accepting his Words fact and only to see that after some weeks of taking his herbal medicine i notice some changes in my body system and i went for check up the day he ask me to go for check up to confirm if the sickness was still there,to my greatest surprise i could not find any sickness in my body i was first shocked and later arise to be the happiest woman on earth after i have concluded my final test on the hospital by my doctor that i am now HIV- Negative. My papers for check are with me and now i am happy and glad for his miraculous help and power. With these i must tell everyone who might seek for any help, either for HIV cure or much more to contact him now at these following email now, Email: (habelhomecenter@gmail.com) sir thank you so much for your immediate cure of my disease, i must say a big thanks for curing my disease, i owe you in return. Thanks and be blessed sir Natasha

  • EugeneDebbs

    That’s not art; its an ad in the form of awful looking graffiti. I can’t blame that guy for wanting it out of his neighborhood. But, I guess we can’t offend the “I liked graffiti before it was cool” crowd.

    • SouthPhillyJumbalaya

      Both Steve Powers & Kurt Vile are world renowned artists and both are from Philadelphia. They’ve done a lot for this city and just because you’ve never heard of them or don’t appreciate them and what they’ve accomplished, doesn’t mean that the rest of our city can’t be proud of them and proud of this mural.

      P.S. Kurt Vile & Steve Powers just did a benefit concert for the Make The World Better foundation (Connor Barwin’s foundation from the Eagles) in Philly on 6/20 (http://www.utphilly.com/event/584159-kurt-vile-violators-philadelphia/). More than just the “I liked graffiti before it was cool crowd” appreciate what these two do for this community and what they mean to this city.

  • lancephoto

    Hey Lee. Good on you for the honest apology. Hopefully this will help you to check yourself and try to view the world around you from a different angle before acting rashly in the future. Peace.

  • Charliefoxtrot

    Yeah, you might say that great art is identifiable as such, the fact that this guy who’s apparently a tattooed DJ doesn’t recognize it might speak more about the quality of the work than anything.
    Maybe the outraged here can simply see it as deconstructed, community-based Art, and this guy was an Outsider Artist, critiquing Wile using performance based methods to demonstrate the hollowness of modern mural arts as a whole?
    Does that kinda make it palatable?

  • steve powers

    Graffiti? Who cares? Everybody, apparently. Some people love it enough to donate time and resources to painting it. Some people hate it enough to donate time and resources to painting over it. Really the graffiti writer and the buffman (and it’s always a man) are more or less the same. They both make a mark on a wall that doesn’t belong to them, they don’t make it better or worse, just different. Writers are winning in that theirs is the mark of humanity that says “I’m here.” The buffers are losing because theirs is the folly of humanity—to try and sweep waves off the beach.

    Graffiti in Philadelphia hasn’t changed much in 40 years, but the attitude of the public toward graffiti has changed in several ways since the halcyon days of Cornbread. First everybody loved it, then everybody got tired of it, then Mr. Blint and Razz and the class of 1980 made it cool again. By 1984, it was hated enough to get a guy who promised to get rid of it elected mayor. And that hate persisted all the way until after the National Guard came to Kensington and buffed walls in the run up to the Democratic National Convention—I think the entire city got buffed once and for all. And once graffiti was gone, people got nostalgic for it, and now in 2014 people like it again. The Mural Arts program has gotten fewer and fewer complaints about it over the years, and now my application of a medium to a surface, once hated, is now appreciated. Progress!

    Jane Golden has been watching this change in attitudes as long as I have, and we’ve talked it through. In the 30 years since the Anti-Graffiti Network started, people have come to understand that graffiti is no big deal. All the walls got clean and it’s still easy to cop heroin and die in the street, proving the “broken windows” theory is broken.

    On saturday a guy named Lee, misguided about graffiti and out of his mind, buffed the wall ICY SIGNS painted for Kurt Vile’s Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze record. Misguided because he thought our commissioned album design was responsible for the graffiti in the neighborhood. Out of his mind because he was using a crappy 1/4 inch nap roller and interior paint. ICY SIGNS recommends 3/4 inch nap and KILZ exterior primer/sealer.

    Lee got caught mid-buff, and was washed out by a wave of internet indignation that was hilarious to me and every other writer I know, past and present. None of us can believe anybody gives a care about spraypaint on a wall. As I’ve been telling the buffman since the 80s, graffiti isn’t permanent—the sun is going to take care of it, eventually, and sooner than you think. So, buffman, go solve a real problem, how about shutting down the open air drug market a mile away? Too hard? Tell me about it, you know how long it took me to get a good hand style?

    When we first painted the wall, we left the tags that were already on the wall when we started. I thought they were kids from the neighborhood and I wanted to leave them up and make them part of the design. I painted the lower half of the wall as fast and as fun as I could, with the same joy as I painted graffiti when I was 17 and free as I will ever be. Turns out the kids were from Baltimore, but a few Philadelphians snuck prints onto the wall and consequently onto Kurt’s album and in doing so returned graffiti to its rightful place on the Philadelphia cultural landscape, dead center where it doesn’t belong.

    We’ll fix the wall, it will be better than it was in the first place (it’s ALWAYS better the second time). Lee the buffman is retired, now he’s Lee Major Crimes Unit. We forgive Lee, we don’t want anybody in trouble for painting a wall. And graffiti will come and go as it has since the caves in Lascaux. Let’s all go back to not caring too much either way.

  • bicoast

    From what I can tell, neither Kurt Vile nor Stephen actually talked with the owner or occupants of the building before putting up the mural, which could have mitigated this whole thing. That’s just bad form. Why don’t you TALK to the people who will have to deal with this mural all-day, every day BEFORE you actually put pain to the wall? You’d get way more support that way, and would initiate the dialogue of public art/private building much earlier. Plus, people bring you refreshements and stuff when you’re out there painting, because they know your intentions and that you’re a decent person :)

  • James

    Why are people so upset over this Kurt Vile mural?
    Iconic? Hardly.

    First, the dude had to hire someone to paint the mural for him.
    I mean, who is this dude? It’s not like an artist created it as a tribute, he paid someone to make his mural “iconic.”

    Further, he is only selling out a 200-1000 seat venue (Union Transfer) in his hometown of Philly. Come on people. He can’t even get 1,000 fans to his show.

    Acting like the Kurt Vile mural is iconic and legendary is a total joke.

    Art changes, it transforms. Who cares.

  • Brian Martenis

    Perhaps this art was created with higher meaning. Looks that way to me.