Blek Le Rat's mural, now painted over, on the side of the Broadway Commerce Center. (Courtesy of Blek Le Rat's Facebook page.)

One of Blek Le Rat’s 20×21 EUG Murals Painted Over

Building owners say they are exploring options for its replacement

A mural by French stencil artist Blek Le Rat that appeared as part of the Eugene’s 20×21 EUG mural project was painted over. The building owners say it was a mistake and they will look into options for replacing it.

The mural project began in 2016 with artists from around the world flying into Eugene to paint and stencil works, big and small, on surfaces throughout downtown. The 20×21 EUG is an attempt to add at least 20 new murals to the area before the 2021 IAAF World Championships at the new Hayward Field.

The covered-up mural was on the western, alley-facing wall of the Broadway Commerce Center (the building on Broadway and Willamette Streets housing Killer Burger, Sizzle Pie, The Barn Light and other businesses). News of the covering-up of a work by Blek Le Rat (aka Xavier Prou) spread on social media the morning of Thursday, Aug. 30.

“We were disappointed to hear about this earlier today,” Beam Development Project Manager Leonard Barrett tells EW in an email. Beam Development, based in Portland, is the Broadway Commerce Center’s owner.

Barrett says it was during a scheduled weather-proofing building painting that the mural was accidentally covered.

“We were very supportive of the installation, and it was our intent to protect the art during painting,” he says. “There was evidently a breakdown in communication with the individuals in the field. We have already reached out to one of the organizers of 20×21, and will explore options for replacing it.”

Barrett tells EW that New York artist Dan Witz’s piece (left in the photo below) was approved by owners of the Broadway Commerce Center as a part of the 20×21 mural project. The piece of art by Le Rat (right in the image below) was not, though the building owners were fine with its presence. Le Rat, “one of the Godfathers of Stencil Art” who served as an inspiration for other street artists like Banksy, according to 20×21’s website, is known for creating public art, approved or not.

Google maps screenshot courtesy of Barrett. Left to right: Art by Dan Witz and Blek le Rat.

So Le Rat’s work was painted over due to a lack of communication with building painters while Witz’s remains.

“The one on the left below is the one that we approved as a part of 20×21. The other one ‘appeared’ around the same time, which we were totally cool with, but it was not sanctioned,” Barrett says.

“The one that we approved was the one that was more on our radar for protecting,” he says. “With respect to the other, there was not really a good way of taping off or protecting (versus being able to simply tape off a small square in the case of the other). The wall needed to be painted in order to keep it weather-tight.”

EW has reached out to the city of Eugene and the city’s Cultural Services division and is waiting for comment.