Completed last Memorial Day weekend with great anticipation, The Spirit of Dundalk mural on Dundalk Avenue has unexpectedly begun to peel in several places.
The mural was sponsored by the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation, which paid Lutherville-based artist Kirk Seese $10,000 for the project. The cost of the mural was offset by a $7,500 grant from Baltimore County and state money for façade improvements.
The rest of the money for the project came from donations and a Renaissance Corp. fundraiser in which $100 would get a local resident’s likeness—or that of a loved one—on the wall. Now, a couple of those portraits are disappearing.
Dundalk Renaissance Corporation executive director Amy Menzer told Patch.com she’s aware of the deteriorating mural and the nonprofit, community-based membership organization has contacted the artist about restoring the painting.
“We’re working on it getting fixed,” Menzer said. “We’ve contacted the artist and when the weather warms up, he’s going to take a look and address it. Hopefully, we’ll get it resolved soon. It is disappointing. We didn’t expect it to last forever, but longer than a year.”
The mural includes iconic Dundalk images, including images of the local steel and port industries, the annual July 4 parade, clapboard bungalow homes, the old Red Rocket streetcar and the fabled Strand Theater.
“I know when it was put it up, it was not supposed to be redone on a yearly basis,” said Sandy Crespo, owner of Turk’s Tailors and Uniforms, a dry cleaning shop upon whose exterior wall the mural is painted.
Crespo said nothing in store would cause the paint to peel.
“There’s not a machine on that side of store,” Crespo said. “There’s nothing against that wall except clothes.”
Seese, a full-time muralist who owns Bella Benvenuti murals, has completed murals in more than a half-dozen states and the District of Columbia. Contacted by phone while working on another project, Seese said he was very surprised to learn the mural was peeling, adding that he has not experienced a similar problem previously.
“The surface was primed, we used exterior paint and then put a clear coat, a sealer over the top,” said Seese, adding that he hopes to complete the restoration this month. “I don’t understand why this is happening. There must be some moisture between the primed wall and some of the paint.”
Seese said that most of his murals have a 20-year guarantee and that he would not charge for the repair work.
“I’ll fix it up,” he said.
- Rafael Alvarez contributed to this story.