At some point in the last two weeks, an unidentified person or persons has altered 75-year–old muralist Keith Stillwagon’s wildlife scene that adorns the entrance of Gulfport Garage located at 2731 Beach Blvd. S.
On Monday, January 13, Gulfport Garage owner Eric Cudar and Stillwagon contacted the Gulfport Police Department to report the vandalism that recently occurred. The police have deemed this a case of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor at best. However, since the mural has been valued at close to $5,000 by the Enroy Foundation who sponsored the piece, this could potentially equate to a felony.
The mural has not been defaced in a typical manner, however. There has been no graffiti or tagging, but alterations to the scene itself, which is why it took a while for the men to notice that something was different.
The alterations that have been made include the erasure of a gecko and changes to both the Florida panther and the lemur, Fonzie. Also, a black “mist” has been sprayed over the foliage. Yesterday’s discovery wasn’t the first of the alterations, but one of three.
“The vandals have ruined about three feet of area on the mural, which means I have to correct an area of six to seven feet,” explained Stillwagon. “I don’t have the same paint I had two years ago, when I first painted the mural, so I have to correct more than what they changed.”
“The worst part of it is that they used a glossy spray varnish,” said Stillwagon. “I don’t use spray paint and I do not use glossy paint. The gloss attracts sunlight. I use special UV protective paint to ensure the mural keeps its luster and quality over time.”
Naturally, Stillwagon is frustrated by the vandalism.
“I do want to know who and I want to know why someone did this,” said Stillwagon. “It couldn’t have been an artist, because no artist would deface another artist’s work like this.”
If anyone has any information or has seen someone painting over the mural over the past two weeks, Stillwagon and Cudar have asked that they contact the Gulfport Police non-emergency line, 727-582-6177.