Grohl Alley vandalized

WARREN – A vandal sprayed graffiti over paintings and a sculpture Saturday morning in David Grohl Alley.

At least 15 paintings and murals, plus the life-sized steel sculpture portraying Warren-born musician Dave Grohl, were spray-painted.

David Grohl Alley, which runs parallel to the 100 block of West Market Street, is dedicated to the 13-time Grammy Award winner. Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana and founder and frontman of the Foo Fighters.

Greg Bartholomew, D-4th Ward councilman and owner of All American Cards and Comics, 161 W. Market St., said the act was caught on video shortly after 6 a.m. by several cameras positioned on the deck beside the alley.

He described the vandal as a white male in his early 20s.

Bartholomew said the vandal walked in from Main Street and worked his way east through the alley.

The video will be turned over to police, he said.

Police could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

“All this stuff was donated by local artists. It was all for public beautification,” he said, shaking his head at the ability of one random person to mar the work of so many in a matter of minutes.

“Thank God he didn’t do anything down on the ground,” Bartholomew said, referring to the large painted images that line the pavement of the alley.

A short time after the vandalism was reported, another group was working toward another city revitalization goal: the former Robins Theater on East Market Street. Melissa Holmes, co-organizer of the Robins Project, said the vandal was probably misguided.

“I think it’s disappointing because as 15 people show up here to make this downtown a better place, one single person has serious negative impact against everyone else’s hard work. And for us to be a stronger community, we the people have to work together,” she said.

Dan Plant spent months working on the life-size steel sculpture of Grohl, which he mostly crafted out of 20-gauge steel. He used a photo of Grohl playing the drums with Them Crooked Vultures for inspiration.

The sculpture now has several large, white scribbles painted across it.

“That sculpture down there was incredible. I know how proud (Plant) is, and it’s completely … it’s just horrible,” said Dave Karr, a Warren resident who also spent time crafting artwork for the alley. “That’s horrible that people have to ruin something that’s trying to be positive for the area. It’s heartbreaking. It’s terrible to see that happen.”

Past president of Main Street Warren and retired Warren police Sgt. Joe O’Grady was instrumental in establishing the alley, but he is taking the incident in stride. He said back when they first started the project, they knew vandals would eventually find it. They just didn’t know when.

But that doesn’t mean he’s letting the vandal off the hook.

“We are going to come up with a unique punishment that fits the crime,” he said with a chuckle.

O’Grady said he really just wants the person to know the devastation that was caused to the people who put their blood and their sweat into the alley.

O’Grady said he already has heard from several of the artists, and although some of the paintings will have to be redone completely, others can be saved.

”It’s an outdoor gallery of artwork, and my favorite part is that it’s always changing,” he said.

He also said nobody should be overly alarmed about the act of vandalism in the alley, calling it just a small blip on the radar.

“We’ll work through it,” he said. “We’ll deal with it in a positive direction.”

bhazen@tribtoday.com