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Disappearing ink: Graffiti removers cover up approved street art

COURTESY PHOTO
COURTESY PHOTO

Markus Tracy has no idea who painted over his art.

It isn't like in the graffiti world, where one artist paints over another and can be held accountable. The paint that covered Tracy's installation -- the words "Unrequited Dreams" on an electrical box at Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard -- is just white. And neither the city nor the county claim to know what happened to it.

"The day we painted, Sunday, we had it completed and got approval by the city and county," Tracy, the man behind the Site on Site project, says. "Then on Monday it was painted out white. I don't know who to point the finger to."

Tracy started the project Site on Site in 2002, when he got the Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs to approve five text messages — all in Times New Roman font — around the downtown Arts District. This year he embarked on Site on Site 2, this time addressing the Winchester neighborhood, with installations at Will Beckley Elementary, Winchester Cultural Center, the Trailhead at Flamingo Arroyo, along with the Erotic Heritage Museum and the aforementioned electrical box. Only the Sahara location got painted over.

"I think murals have a life expectancy, even if it's one day it's OK because it's documented, and to me it's there for life," Tracy says. "But just [Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard] has been painted out. Many from 2002 have just faded, after 11 years. And that's beautiful because times change and neighborhoods change, like the art fading."

This morning, Tracy got a call from the county saying a graffiti removal company called American Graffiti went over the installation without knowing it was an art installation. The county has invited Tracy to repaint "Unrequited Dreams" on its original home.