A patriotic mural in Dallas honoring U.S. military veterans was painted over in black only days before Independence Day.
The painting depicted U.S. Marines from Desert Storm gathered around a young break dancing grunt. Reportedly, it was inspired by an image of such a scene captured by a Dallas native and decorated military veteran photojournalist. The American flag, in the shape of the United States, served as the backdrop for the artistic tribute. Until Friday, it graced an outside wall of The Green Room Bar & Grill in the Deep Ellum section of Dallas. Now it is gone, buried beneath a coat of fresh black paint.
“I would call it a slap in the face to veterans, especially the way they did it, said Preston Pannek, the lead local street artist who painted the mural over seven days. He told CBSDFW: “They painted over the American flag. They did it a couple of days before July 4th. There’s no reason for it.”
Pannek added: “This was supposed to show everybody that these are kids fighting for us. And they’re just out there trying to have a good time.”
Green Room spokespeople said this came as a surprise to them, too. Westdale Asset Management owns the property. It is a Canada-based real estate investment and management firm headquartered in Dallas. Apparently, Westdale officials did not give the restauranteurs a reason why they painted over the mural.
Pannek said he called Westdale and the property manager abruptly told him: “It’s gone. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
However, over the weekend, Deep Ellum’s local artists, residents, and watchdog groups thought otherwise and mobilized, voicing their frustrations over social media, according to KDFW. Quickly, the property management firm seemed to paint themselves into a corner over their decision to remove the mural. By Saturday, things began to turn around. Facebook group Deep Ellum Neighbors thanked Joe Beard, president and CEO of Westdale, for “working to make this situation right.”
Then, on Monday, The Green Room announced over Facebook the mural will be repainted by Pannek and the other original artists. “After communicating with Westdale, our leaseholder, they realized their mistake and the mural honoring our veterans and military will be repatriated to our side wall,” wrote the restaurant’s management.
The Green Room included a formal statement from Westdale, acknowledging their “error in judgment” in ordering the mural’s removal. It stated, in part: “On Saturday, I personally reached out to Preston Pannek, one of the artists, and spoke to him to communicate my apologies for the actions of our organization and to express that we recognize and admit error in judgment.”
Westdale top brass also expressed their desire to “fix our mistake by offering to pay to replace the original work.” They asked Pannek to convey their apologies “to other artists that collaborated on this project and spent many hours creating the mural.”
Later, Pannek posted on The Green Room’s Facebook thread, saying he was “very happy” with the way the property manager took responsibility “to fix the mural.”
It is unclear how soon the mural will be repainted.
Update: Westdale officials changed their tune about replacing the patriotic mural they painted over in black. Emails obtained by The Dallas Morning News revealed that Westdale’s CEO, Beard, rescinded the offer on Tuesday. The real estate company posted on Facebook that it decided to re-purpose the monies dedicated to repainting the mural and instead make a $50,000 donation to the nonprofit Military Warriors Support Foundation.
According to the Dallas newspaper, Pannek requested $27,000 to cover artist costs, supplies, and fees to rent out the Green Room parking lot while the artwork was recreated. However, Beard said in an interview he was not pleased that the mural promoted the artists’ websites and Facebook pages. He was also “taken aback” by the costs to recreate the mural. Beard also asserted the building’s property manager only ever agreed to allow the artistic veterans’ tribute to grace the Green Room’s wall for 30 days.
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