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Vandalized mural restored in Fountain Square, community supports artist

Dan Handskillz standing by his restored mural
Posted at 7:31 AM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 07:31:35-04

INDIANAPOLIS — In less than a week, a mural on the plaza in Fountain Square was restored after a vandal splattered paint all over it.

Local artist Dan "Handskillz" Thompson is the artist behind it. He's been doing public art for the last 20 years. When he found out someone had vandalized his mural, he wasn't surprised.

"Vandalism is part of life in the city but it doesn't hurt me like it used to," Handskillz said.

What did surprise him, however, was the commitment level of this particular vandal. "Most people, when they deface a mural, it's very small. It's an afterthought. This looked like they knew what they were doing. That's aggressive and at the end of the day, there's really no point to it."

The vandalism took place sometime over the weekend of March 13. By Wednesday, all of the vandal's paint had been removed. Handskillz and his friend, Brian Presnell, spent some of that day touching it up, restoring the work to its original state. Presnell was the person responsible for getting the paint off quickly.

"My sense of urgency came from my friendship with him and to send a message back to this little varmint that you can't mess with us," Presnell said. He even put up a few signs in case the person decides to come back.

"If you saw what the painting looked like, it looked like a Pollock wannabe. 'You ain't Jackson Pollock' is a straight to the idiot," Presnell said. "Then, 'only chumps deface public art,' that's another one for him."

Presnell also started a GoFundMe to help pay for Handskillz's time and the material he used to restore the mural. It surpassed the initial goal, so Presnell raised it to $2,500. Just under $2,000 has been raised ahead of this article being published.

Handskillz welcomes the support but wishes, in the future, it won't take vandalism to draw attention to public art.

"You can't get this kind of attention when you do a new doesn't go viral like that. It's a completely crazy experience and I didn't expect people to show up like that," Handskillz said.