COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The painting of a jar catching fireflies in front of the Columbia Senior Center is usually a monochromatic masterpiece of black and white with a splash of green for the bugs' glow.
However, it now has a dash of red through it that the artist did not intend.
At least two Columbia murals were vandalized by what appears to be the same person or group. In addition to the one in front of the Senior Center, a mural of a large and happy tree on My House, the Downtown Columbia nightclub, was recently tagged with the same red spray paint.
Chris Foss, the firefly mural artist, shared his disappointment with the vandalism on Facebook, saying it's "not cool" for someone to tag his hard work. The painting is sentimental for Foss.
"It actually is my son's hands holding jar, and that spot is where my wife and I got married," Foss said.
Foss said he has a plan to repair the painting, and has protective clear coat over it he hopes will help.
"If I have to just go over every little square inch again, that's part of just doing what you got to do, you know, bringing it back," Foss said.
The My House mural was patched up and sealed with a protective coat, restored to its original beauty.
"But that was another expense, right?" said mural artist Alex Eickhoff.
Eickhoff, whose professional name is Eye Cough Art, said the biggest disappointment is the cost it was to My House, which commissioned the piece and had to pay to repair it.
Art is Eickhoff's full-time job, and it's not an easy field to break into.
"Not only do you have to be a good artist and be unique enough to where people will seek you out specifically over anybody else for any given job or project, but you have to function as a business," Eickhoff said.
Foss is still trying to make a name for himself. When the news of his ruined painting got out, comments online were building up Foss.
"There was a lot of really great comments and outpour and support and compliments from Columbia, and it kind of just made me think this is a great point to get more art up," Foss said.
But, Eickhoff said he doesn't know what else there is to do about the vandalism. He acknowledges that having public art means putting your art in a vulnerable position.
"I don't want to over-generalize and say that all graffiti writers have this chip on their shoulder and they want to stick it to the man or whatever," Eickhoff said. "But it's hard not to believe that that's part of the equation. All I can do is pray that they find peace in life to the point that they don't need to disrupt other people's beauty."
In the near future, Foss hopes to see more public art in Columbia.
"We're not a fly over town, you know, this is a big city and we should celebrate it more, give it more character," Foss said.