Artist continues her work despite vandalism of east Nashville mural

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A mural in east Nashville on the side of East Side Cycles on 11th Street was vandalized with white paint.

Police have no clues and no video in the case.

On Wednesday the artist, a Belmont art graduate now working out of California, reacted to the set back.

Leah Tumerman has friends and family in Nashville and she was a former worker at Bongo Java Coffee.

She’s now is a muralist working in California, but she has been in east Nashville the last few days working on a new mural in Five Points.

She was hired by her former Bongo Java Coffee boss, Bob Bernstein, who also owns the building that contains Eastside Cycles.

On Monday morning, Tumerman arrived at the mural around 6:45 a.m. and she found the mural, depicting one of her original pieces of art, showing five bears, splattered with white house paint.

“I am super confident this was a disgruntled, singular neighbor who didn’t want change, or someone not in their right mind who made a bad choice. It is the nature of public art. It happens to public artists and street artists all the time. This was an act of vandalism. It is what artists get into when they take on a public work like this, and there are hurt feelings and you have to move on, cover up, make your mark.”

Bernstein said he commissioned his former employee to paint the mural, in order to replace a mural that was on the building he purchased.

“I bought this [building] eight years ago, and the first thing I wanted to do was paint over the image here and I contemplated what represents east Nashville, and there is not one thing, so I gave up. Now I have said let’s put up art and have fun with it and put up something that appeals to kids and adults and I have contracted with a former employee who does mural arts in California and this art popped with me, I love teddy bears, and there are five of them, and we’re in Five Points, it all came together, and all the bears are wandering and searching whatever interpretation you want it to be. It felt right to me.”

Bernstein said it is possible that the person who sabotaged the mural is someone who doesn’t like change, or the fact the old mural is being painted over.

“It represented a long time ago and some people like to hold on to the past, but it needed an update and that one was done 14 years ago, murals last like 10 years and it was peeling away and something needed to be done. It is insulting and surprising that something like that would happen in east Nashville where a lot of artists live. I have no idea if someone didn’t like this art or wanted to make a statement or it was something to do one day there are many things in Nashville I am not in favor of. I would never paint over them or tear them down.”

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