Local Artist Painstakingly Restores Wildberries’ Mural Defaced by Vandal

Joan Dunning

Local artist Joan Dunning restoring the Wildberries mural. [All photos provided by Dunning]

This week, local artist, muralist, and writer–Joan Dunning–carefully restored the Wildberries’ mural that had been defaced by a vandal earlier this year. She matched colors carefully to recreate the charm of the original work.

Dunning explained to us that the block-long mural on the south wall of the Wildberries parking lot in Arcata “was painted 13 years ago in 2007, and, since that time, its sincerity and beauty and the sheer effort and intelligence that went into its creation seem to have protected it from graffiti.”  She told us, “[I]t is the work of young people, specifically “The Summer Youth Mural Project of 2007.” As the years have passed, the mural’s straight forward innocence and vulnerability seem to have been a powerful force of protection.”

But she said, this year it was tagged. “Perhaps the person who did it never noticed the mural,” she wrote. “It was just a wall…The Arcata Police are currently investigating who this person might be [and] following some promising leads.”

But Dunning was most interested in restoring the wall. “People thanked me constantly, as they walked and drove by,” she wrote in an email yesterday. “Plus, they told me a lot of interesting and hilarious stories.  It was fun and well worth my time.  Also, I, simply, did not want to look at it defaced.  I am a big believer in the power of street art to be regarded as an offering to the public.  Last year, three other artists and I created murals at 2nd and C in Old Town Eureka.  People have been really appreciative.”

Note: “The Arcata youth mural was originally designed by Haley Van Gemert and the project was supervised by Maureen McGarry in coordination with the California Integrated Waste Management Board, Arcata’s Environmental Services Department and, of course, Wildberries.”

Note: We suggest if you approve of this kind of community spirit, pick up one of Joan’s books. We did.



  • Thank you Joan for another generous, creative, and constructive gift to the community.
    It’s been so sad, and quite upsetting watching the tagging go unchallenged all across Arcata recently. It took the City more than a month to clean interpretive signage for the wetland on Old Arcata Road. Such delays offer ‘victories’ for the vandals.

  • Arcata could have a public art wall for people with spray paint to show off who really is the best. Lots of cities do it

    There are many talented artists who ended up doing graffiti that could be successful elsewhere, for real

    • Hmmm, maybe they should focus their talent on positive instead of defacing property not their own, or the cities. These self proclaimed artists should take some lessons in common decency and respect of property. Most these people haven’t worked an honest day in their life, and that is why they feel so empowered to deface property like this!

    • They did that in eureka. It looks like shit.

    • There should be legal walls or areas for people to go paint if they want. With no worries of being arrested. That could be a section for people to go practice their art. These murals aren’t the place for them to be tagging that’s for sure. But if the kids or artist practice and get better maybe they could get their own wall to paint a mural.

      • Why? Why should everyone be forced in eye fatigue or even revulsion because someone wants to spray paint on other people’s property? It’s not all about them.

  • Spray paint Youths need to get a clue and realize their hobby is super toxic.
    I suppose wall paint is too, but the attitude behind the wildberries mural is much different than the attitudes of the unpurposed young male Youths out at night degrading public efforts.

    Thank you Mrs. Dunning💗

  • The Artist as Hero. A lovely, uplifting story. Thank you to Ms. Dunning and Ms. Kym for a bit of brightness.

  • Burnt Roach (new handle)

    It would be nice to know if this graffiti is gang related or just kids expressing themselves. People tag structures for other reasons too. A known empty house available for homeless people to use is an example. Gangs marking their territory is common. Does Arcata have a gang problem?

  • I wish Trump supporters would stop defacing property.

  • The comments on this site truly mirror the intellect of the average “adult” that pretends to either pass judgement, or feign ‘knowledge’.
    Go further south and murals are very political. This one is innocent and sweet. Too bad some of you are jealous of youth. Too fucking bad.

  • Thank you Joan, et al. And thank you to RHBB for posting the mural for our files. It is one of the special attributes of Arcata. Thank you all, for caring and beauty.

  • Joan, Thank you for your expression of love in the restoration of this mural. Such compassion is truly appreciated by all the residents of Humboldt County

  • Buffy the Vampire, SLAYER!!!

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