A prominent downtown Davenport intersection was an eyesore Monday and will be transformed into an eye-catching beauty by talented local artists.

The old deteriorating Metro Arts murals on two corners of 4th and Pershing were tagged with graffiti last week, and were covered with white primer by late Tuesday, as a new canvas for the 22-year-old Quad City Arts Metro Arts program.

The north side of 4th and Pershing, Davenport, as seen Monday, June 13, 2022 (photo by Jonathan Turner)

Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, said this week the new murals have been planned for months with Quad City Arts.

“The graffiti only showed up after we began removal of the old murals on Thursday and Friday last week,” he said. “The walls are being primed now and QC Arts will be doing the rest over the next several weeks.” The old murals were done by student apprentices with lead artist Sarah Robb in 2009 and 2010.

The same intersection, after covered in white primer, on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“We’re excited for some fresh artwork,” Carter said.  The new murals will be led by veteran QC artists Sarah Robb and Heidi Sallows, working with 20 paid student apprentices (10 on each mural). They will be completed in five weeks, and Downtown Davenport Partnership is contributing to the apprentice salaries.

“They needed to be replaced,” Quad City Arts executive director Kevin Maynard said Wednesday of the walls at 4th and Pershing, outside the luxurious Hotel Blackhawk. “The location where they’re at — because of the bridge and everything — it gets a lot of water runoff; it gets covered with dirt and mud, during certain times of the year. They start needing to be replaced.”

This is not the first time Metro Arts murals have been defaced.

The south side of the intersection at 4th and Pershing on Monday, June 13, 2022 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

In July 2011, racial epithets and swastikas were smeared across a former Bettendorf mural, off 18th Street and Lincoln Road, and a new mural was done in its place. There were also obscenities placed on a new Metro Arts mural in downtown Moline last summer (under the Arsenal Bridge on the bike path), but it had been covered with an anti-graffiti layer, that made it easier to remove, Maynard said.

“Essentially, it’s a clear coat that goes over the top of it and it’s what they call a sacrificial layer,” he said. “So that if somebody were to come and tag that, now that would be able to come off really easily cleaning it off, but you’d have to replace that area of the graffiti coat.”

It’s yet to be determined if the anti-graffiti coating will go on the new Davenport murals.

“For the most part, it’s actually pretty rare for a mural to be tagged, especially when it’s freshly completed,” Maynard said. “Most people who are tagging, they just don’t mess with other people’s artwork.”

The south side of 4th and Pershing on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

A third Metro Arts mural will be done this summer on a retaining wall next to the Modern Woodmen print shop in Rock Island, Maynard said.

Metro Arts overall will serve 50 apprentices this year. Since the summer of 2000, Metro Arts has provided area youth 15-21 years old with paid summer apprenticeships in various arts disciplines.

The program provides opportunities for youth and enhances the community through the arts. For five weeks, area youth work together in groups to complete art projects under the supervision and mentorship of professional artists.

A Metro Arts mural in downtown Moline — under the Arsenal Bridge along the bike path — was done in summer 2021.

Participants learn the artistic techniques and applications of their particular genre while developing personally and professionally. Murals and street paintings throughout the Quad Cities are the lasting legacy of programs past.

For more information on Metro Arts, click HERE.