When the “No Damsel” exhibit opened in May at CAM Raleigh – a reimagining of iconic heroines from classic Walt Disney movies – three murals were painted on exterior walls nearby.
In the past month, the most politically charged of them has been partly erased in an apparent act of vandalism. Los Angeles-based artist Dorian Lynde had painted “Sleeping Beauty” heroine Aurora in a blue T-shirt that said, “MIND YOUR OWN UTERUS,” holding a sign that read, “I SEE A LOT OF MEN TALKING!”
It appears to have been sandblasted, power-washed or bleached, with only a faint outline still remaining.
“It seems purposeful, not from the rain or anything like that,” Lynde said. “It feels like vandalism, based on the fact that everyone seems not to know who did it.”
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The mural overlooked an alley from the east-facing wall of the building at 211 W. Martin St. That building once housed printing presses for the Raleigh Times, but it has stood vacant for years.
“It was not authorized and I wish I knew who did it,” said building owner John Holmes, president of Raleigh-based Hobby Properties and a CAM Raleigh board member. “I thought maybe the city had, but they said they didn’t. That was not done by us. We wanted it.”
She said she adopted the slogan of “I see a lot of men talking” at the suggestion of Tina and Grayson Haver Currin, a local activist couple who gained attention with their “Saturday Chores” picketing of anti-abortion protestors.
“A couple of people came by while I was painting and were slightly confrontational,” said Lynde, describing when she painted Aurora. “Nobody would say they didn’t like it, but there was a lot of, ‘What is this, what’s it supposed to mean?’ Three men came by and we had talks like that. I would not say I won them over, but at least they were not visibly angry.”
Anonymous vandalism aside, “No Damsel” has been a big success at CAM. The show was originally scheduled to close in August, but the run was extended to January due to popular demand, said Gab Smith, CAM executive director.
Sometime around the exhibit’s Jan. 7 closing date, Lynde will return to paint a few more “No Damsel” murals around downtown Raleigh. So far, the show’s other two original murals on exterior walls – both on South Harrington Street, right around CAM – are fine.
That doesn’t make the loss of the third mural any easier to take.
“We don’t know why somebody did this, but we were super-bummed to see that,” Smith said. “I don’t want to speculate on why people do things. Sometimes it can be more a dare than a political statement, people being jerky. I don’t know.”