Mural honouring jazz pianist Oliver Jones defaced

Pop Goes The News – A Montreal mural honouring homegrown jazz pianist Oliver Jones has been defaced by a vandal.

The 95-square-metre tribute to Jones – part of the Montreal’s Great Artists series – was created in 2014 to mark Jones’ 80th birthday. It is located at the corner of Lionel Groulx St. and Georges Vanier Blvd. in Little Burgundy, the neighbourhood where Jones grew up.

The mural was featured in the 2017 documentary Oliver Jones Mind Hands Heart, which premiered at the Montreal International Black Film Festival.

Montreal, long regarded as the graffiti capital of Canada, has seen an increase in spray-paint vandalism in recent years.

“I don’t take it personally when they hit a mural I’ve painted, even though they may intend it to be personal,” says Dan Buller, the artist who created the mural with Five Eight. “I’m sure they don’t know or care who Oliver Jones is.”

Buller says there is a faction that targets artistic murals. “They destroy murals that take days to create as a way of claiming territory and flipping the bird to artists, who they view as kind of haughty pretentious types putting on airs,” he explains, adding that they are “proud of being a kind of urban blight, weeds in the garden, pests that are just a natural outgrowth of city living.”

Buller said he and his friends did graffiti in the early ‘90s but followed a code of ethics. “We never painted over pieces … we didn’t paint on people’s homes or businesses, etc.,” he told Pop Goes The News, via e-mail. “We only painted murals, we never tagged or did throw-ups. Most graf writers didn’t share our attitude, they were more into the destructive aspect of graffiti than the artistic side of it.”

The City of Montreal claims that graffiti that is reported online or via telephone “is removed from public property from April 1 to November 30.”

Jones turns 87 in September.