Windsor

'Just look, no touchy' says artist of restored Black history mural in Sandwich

Five and a half months after blue spray paint was found on a Black history mural in Sandwich Towne, the artist and city staff have restored it.

Blue spray paint was found on the mural in April

Artist Jermaine Baylis said almost every one of the 16 panels received some sort of touch up. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

Five and a half months after blue spray paint was found on a Black history mural in Sandwich Towne, the artist and city staff have restored it and returned it to its place. 

At the end of April, Windsor police said they were investigating vandalism, which was mostly concentrated on a part of the mural dedicated to Howard Watkins — Windsor's second Black detective. 

Co-artist of the mural, Jermaine Baylis, said seeing his work back up in Paterson Park feels "good." 

"A lot of people were really attached to this mural and had a lot of questions of 'where is it at? where has it been?' And just to see it back up I know there's going to be a lot of happy people," he said. 

Baylis said at least every one of the 16 panels had some sort of touch up. He, along with his brother and co-artist Darrell Baylis, also corrected some misspelled names or inaccurate dates. 

The restoration process required them to take the eight foot by four foot panels out to a barn in Essex, where Baylis lives.  

Coun. Fabio Costante posted this photo to social media in April showing the Howard Watkins portion of the mural in Paterson Park vandalized with graffiti. (Fabio Costante/Facebook)

"I had to match colours up in paint that I don't have anymore ... looking for colour matches so one panel don't stick out more than the others. Do I even remember what paint I used 10 years ago?" he said. 

After all the work, Baylis said he hopes people "just look, no touchy." 

The mural also now has a protective coating, which Baylis said will protect it from UV-ray damage and hopefully any future graffiti. 

In an email to CBC News Friday, Windsor police said no charges were laid following the investigation, but anyone with information is asked to reach out. 

Artist Teajai Travis, who shared his disappointment at the time that the mural was vandalized, said Friday that it's important to protect these sorts of works because they "tell stories." 

"These pieces hold the stories so generations down the road there's a reconnection," he said.

"Sandwich Towne itself is such a historic community for many reasons and a large part of those reasons is the Black history that exists here." 

The mural stands 10 feet tall and 64 feet wide in Windsor's Sandwich Towne. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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