‘It was pretty heartbreaking’: Less than 3 months up, Vivant Vintage’s mural was vandalized

The Lower Allston storeowner, Justin Pomerleau, has created a GoFundMe to help raise money to fix the artwork, which was designed by Hiero Veiga.

Vivant Vintage's vandalized mural.
Vivant Vintage's vandalized mural. –Justin Pomerleau

When Justin Pomerleau, the owner of Vivant Vintage in Lower Allston, teamed up with artist Hiero Veiga in September, he envisioned that the store’s new mural would be a piece of public art that both embodied the spirit of his business and paid homage to the community.

But less than three months later, on Wednesday, his four-person team was confronted with the news that an unknown party had vandalized the artwork. And likely, Pomerleau said, on the same night the store was featured on an episode of “Chronicle.”

“We think that it happened the night before [on Tuesday],” he said. “It’s interesting that they both happened on the same night. I don’t know if there’s a coincidence there or a connection there — you can’t ever really understand why people do the things they do without hearing their side of the story.”

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Pomerleau said he’s created a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise $3,000 to fix the painting. If there are any funds left over, they will go toward financing further work to the design, he said.

The target amount is approximately the same as the original cost, including the price of Veiga’s flights and materials, Pomerleau said.

“The money is going toward [Veiga’s] flights to come back up here to fix the mural, materials that we will need to — like the spray paint alone was about $2,500,” he said. “And it’s also, like a big chunk of that money is going to buying a UV clear coat protective layer that we’re going to put on, so if something like this happens in the future, we should be able to clean it up without having to have to restore the mural.”

At the time of the mural’s defacement, which Pomerleau called “pretty heartbreaking” at first, the artwork was only in its earlier stages of completion.

The mural before it was vandalized. —Justin Pomerleau

Strewn across the mural, which displays Pomerleau lying down with ropes tied across him, are now haphazardly spray painted lines of green and blue. The current work, he said, is planned to be expanded on in the spring — adding to the “Gulliver’s Travels” and Michael Jackson’s “Leave Me Alone” themes with a new amusement park surrounding the figure.

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The finished mural, Pomerleau said, will feature rats riding carnival rides, a reference to Allston’s unofficial nickname of “Rat City,” and some elements of the store’s style.

And so the damage to the project, depending on how much money the crowdfunding endeavor raises, will require even more cash to come out of his pocket, Pomerleau said, as no outside funding was initially sought.

“I put the money up myself. We didn’t even have the money to begin with — we just had to make it happen,” he said. “We wanted to bring something to the neighborhood, something that would change the way people look at that intersection. But it’s only just getting started.”

Pomerleau said he’s “already over” the vandalism, and doesn’t plan on filing a report with the police. He simply wants to talk to the party responsible — in an attempt to understand their reasoning — and accomplish his initial goal of giving something back to the neighborhood by fixing the mural.

“When you make a big impact in anything, I guess you ruffle some feathers,” he said. “And I don’t know where that came from or what the reason is, and honestly all I can say to whoever did it — is to come talk to me. If you have a problem with me or don’t like what I’m doing, voice your opinion to me. I’m not going to do anything but hear you out.”

The mural after it was vandalized. —Justin Pomerleau

In a few days, Veiga will return to 318 Lincoln St. to revive his art, Pomerleau said.

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“[Veiga] responded immediately. He got on the next flight out of his pocket,” Pomerleau said. “We’re trying to raise the money — I’m going to pay for his flight whether we raise the money or not.”

As of Friday morning, over $600 had already been contributed by members of the public, and Pomerleau said he’s hopeful the goal will be met in its entirety.

“If we raise enough money, we could make this one of the best pieces of public art in the city, and really develop it to what it deserves to be. We have the skills to do it, we have the concept,” he said. “This isn’t just a piece of art about the city, it’s a piece of art about art for art’s sake.”