SAN MARCOS, Texas — A mural near downtown San Marcos honoring Hays County veterans was recently vandalized with profanity.

  • Mural is near downtown San Marcos
  • Mural honors Hays County veterans
  • Police are trying to identify vandal

The city has filed a police report, but, so far, don't have any information about who is responsible for the graffiti.

"We certainly hate to see any graffiti anywhere in the city," said San Marcos Arts Coordinator Trey Hatt.

Hatt said he's frustrated seeing that someone chose to vandalize such a positive mural.

"The mural itself has a very positive, pro-veteran, support the military message. In fact, there's names of veterans from Hays County who have died in combat on it," Hatt said. "Personally, it's kind of heartbreaking to see such destruction, such damage placed on a piece of public art."

The mural, painted by Austin resident Ryan Runcie, pays tribute to those who have served in the American Armed Forces. Now, it's tainted with profanity in orange spray paint.

Hatt said this vandalism goes against what the Mural Arts Program stands for.

"That's what this program is all about at its core is graffiti abatement and beautification," Hatt said. "Murals really do tend to deter graffiti just on their own. It's been found in other cities that have mural programs that blank walls kind of are more prone to be tagged. Whereas murals and other public art just tend to deter folks, unless they just have some sort of message they really, really want to put."

Graffiti technicians assessed the damage to see if it was possible to remove it themselves.

"We've looked into possibly just spraying it off ourselves, but it was determined early on that it would just probably cause more damage to the mural if we tried to fix it ourselves than get the artist to come back," Hatt said.

Under the Mural Arts Program, artists are contractually obligated for 5 years to return to the mural for any maintenance or repairs that are needed.

"It's not a matter of trying to find the artists or track them down," Hatt said. "When the artist takes on a project like this, he or she knows going in that they need to be able to be contacted in case something like this happens."

The Veterans Memorial mural cost $25,000 to create and was paid for by hotel occupancy taxes back in 2016. The city is currently waiting for the original artist to give a quote of what it will take to fix the damage.

"If the quote's going to come in higher than $2,500, then the city's insurance will cover it. Otherwise, if it's lower than that, then it'll just be part of the maintenance of the mural and come out of the Mural Arts budget," Hatt said.

Runcie sent Spectrum News a statement after being contacted by the city about his damaged mural. He said:

"The San Marcos Arts Council contacted me swiftly in regard to fixing this unfortunate occurrence. The mural will be fixed very soon. I apologize for the disturbance and unsightly experience the local community has experienced."

Hatt praised Runcie for his work on the mural and said he is currently in the process of becoming a mentor for other artists.

"The artist was really proud of his work. There was a public paint day, so members of the public came out to help paint it," Hatt said. "He's just a really phenomenal artist, but also, he's a really good teacher, we've found. We've actually hired him to give arts workshops. So he's actually getting a bunch of arts workshops for other clients squared away and then once he gets done with those then he'll be able to come in and help us out."