Seems like only days ago we were watching those old home movies shot on Forest Lane, in which you catch a fleeting glimpse of the groovy brick-wall mural, between Midway and Rosser, painted in the spirit of 1976 by W.T. White students. The mural, done to cover graffiti that marred that stretch of Northwest Dallas for years, remains intact to this day, sort of: In recent years it's been altered a few times, most recently when someone painted SpongeBob SquarePants texting while driving, punctuated by an "R.I.P." tombstone.
That incident proved to be too much for Cathy Miller McCoppin, among the W.T. White Longhorns responsible for painting the wall 35 years ago. In August she took to Facebook to voice her displeasure, which spurred a mini-movement to restore the facade to its original look. Now, of course, there's the Helping to Paint the Wall on Forest Lane! Facebook page, to which a Friend of Unfair Park directed my attention this afternoon.
"When I saw SpongeBob, it infuriated me for a number of reasons," McCoppin tells Unfair Park. "I am sure the man who did it was very well-intentioned -- he thought it was a positive message -- but I didn't think it was appropriate for the wall. I also couldn't find a living soul who gave him permission, and I opened my big mouth on the Forest Lane page: 'Does anybody know anything about this?' And my phone blew up.
"So I started the new page and took it upon myself to do the homework and find out what needed to be done -- the permits and so on -- and was granted permission by the city to restore the wall, under the condition we restore it to its original artwork. So I am gathering information, and one of the original artists -- the main artist, as a matter of fact -- is going to help me recreate exactly what has been covered."
She expects the cost will be minimal, around $200 to $500. Right now, McCoppin says, the biggest challenge is finding photos of the original mural -- before someone replaced the original U.S.S. Enterprise with the next-gen version ("that'll be replaced"), before someone added that Chevy Blazer ("that'll be removed") and so on. Turns out, she was given a DVD of those old home movies about, oh, an hour ago. "And I have worked for the last six weeks, going to the Dallas Public Library and contacting historians, to see if they have photos. Unfortunately I can't find any before 1980." Surely a Friend of Unfair Park has something better than that.
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And if you want to grab a paintbrush for the redo, let her know -- she hopes to do this sooner than later. And someone from the neighborhood, now a documentary filmmaker in D.C., hopes to come back and shoot a doc about the restoration, she says. "Though I can't imagine why," she adds with a small laugh.