It was the evening of Jan. 22 when artist Nara Rosa got a call that her mural had been defaced. A wall located at The Yard in Wilton Manors, what was once filled with paisley and floral prints was now covered over with silver bubble letters.
“I was speechless when I got the message,” Rosa said.
A man with a bag of spray paint cans came onto the property and started painting over her work. When approached by management, he said he thought it was an open wall — he was asked to leave the property.
But Rosa is as bubbly and optimistic as her artwork. She took it as a sign that with the new year, she’s due for a new project. For the last week, she’s been back at it, creating two brand-new murals at The Yard. The artist is using her signature bright colors, flowers, and this time is incorporating a rainbow into the piece.
“I stopped and said, you know, it’s a new year, a new life for everybody because of this pandemic, it’s time to change and life is like that. Sometimes you have bad stuff that you have to deal with,” she said. “I said, ‘I’m going to repaint another one,’ and I’m glad I have that inspiration to do that in this life. Problems appear and disappear and that’s it. It is in our mind to start over.”
The Yard, previously known as Eucalyptus Gardens, is owned and operated by Lazy Lake Mayor Evan Anthony. The village is a collection of shops, including a wine bar, farmers market, coffee shop, a clothing store in a silver Airstream, and the popular concrete walls that have been painted over with stunning artistry. There’s Frida Kahlo, a pink spoonbill traipsing through water, a whimsical mandala, a tribute to the students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and more.
That was before an unknown man came onto the property the evening of Jan. 22 and started spray painting over Rosa’s work. Wesley Schultz, the manager of Lola’s Bazaar at The Yard, caught him and called Anthony to come over. The man said he was doing an advertisement and he thought it was an open wall.
“I said, ‘No you’re totally mistaken. You have no authority to be here and you just desecrated somebody’s hard, three months of painting, what were you thinking?’” Anthony recounted. “I don’t even know what it says because I was so irate that I asked them to leave the property and the police came.”
Wilton Manors Police created an incident report and told Anthony that they should put up signs to let the public know that the walls are private. Since the vandalism, they have installed the signs.
“This guy just goes in there, brazen, and paints right over,” Anthony said. “If you’re an artist — [he] told me [he’s] an artist — you don’t do that. It’s a known fact.”
Photos were taken of the man and the vandalism, which Schultz and Rosa shared on social media. People spread the message, asking the public if they knew who he was and to hold him accountable for painting over the mural.
The mural went up two years ago, a splash of bright paisley prints and flowers. Rosa said it was inspired by psychedelic imagery from her “hippie times.” In the two months it took her to complete the mural, she said she woke up every day excited to go back to The Yard to continue working on it. When it was completed, it became a popular, Instagram-worthy backdrop for visitors.
Newlyweds take a photo in front of Nara Rosa’s mural at The Yard in Wilton Manors before it was defaced in January. Courtesy of Nara Rosa.
“I got lots of emails, a lot of Facebook messages,” Rosa said. “I have a lot of people who support me.”
Rosa hopes to finish the mural before her birthday in March, when she hopes to have a glass of wine with a few friends in front of the finished piece.
“It will be my own birthday gift to myself,” she laughed.
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