Taggers won’t back down.
Tom Petty’s memorial mural on the SW 34th Street wall usually reads, “Gainesville’s No. 1 son.” But the mural was vandalized Sunday with a large blue and white tag blocking half of the message from view.
Blake Harrison, a 55-year-old local artist, said it was the largest tag he’s seen since he began taking care of the mural about a month after it was painted last October.
“It doesn’t really matter to me who did it,” he said. “It just happened.”
An anonymous female artist painted the mural following Petty’s death on Oct. 2, 2017, Harrison said. He asked the artist if he could add a portrait of Petty to the vivid red heart in the center of the mural.
“There’s not another Tom Petty out there,” he said.
Harrison has been cleaning up the tags every few months with help from fans and the local Sherwin-Williams location, which donates paint. He said he’ll continue to take care of the mural as long as he’s in Gainesville.
“Public art has a transient nature to it,” Harrison said. “Certain murals get tagged on and then they get fixed because of their preciousness to the community.”
Daniel App, the co-founder and lead guitarist of Heavy Petty, a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute band, said he was glad the defacement didn’t happen during the Tom Petty Birthday Bash.
App was disappointed but not surprised, he said.
“Let a legacy be a legacy,” he said.