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ArtPrize mural at MeXo venue defaced overnight

Artist Arturo Morales Romero predicts it will take him an additional 30 hours to fix the vandalism.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An ArtPrize entry celebrating Hispanic culture was defaced overnight Saturday, according to the artist, Arturo Morales Romero.

Romero posted photos to his Facebook page and spoke about the incident during a Facebook Live video Sunday morning. Romero says he is at the MeXo Restaurant venue, where the mural is placed, early each morning to work on the painting.

"It's very sad to see that this happened because I have put so many hours on it and I have been working on it so hard for 28 days now," Romero said in the live video. "This is not right."

He says he has already spent 228 hours working on the mural, and that 30 more hours of work are expected to complete it. That timeline is impacted now that the mural has been defaced.

"Due to all this vandalism that has been done to the mural, it's probably gonna take me another 30 hours (to fix it)," Romero said.

Romero hopes that those responsible for the vandalism learn from the experience and reflect on its impact.

"It might seem fun at that moment, but in reality they should take into consideration that people really work so hard to accomplish something for a long time, and for them to come in one second and destroy," he said. "Everyone who did this, I hope you get to think about what you're doing. This is not right."

The situation is not getting Romero down, though. He says he will finish the mural and work to cover the vandalism.

"I guess they just wanted to put their touch of artistic skills on it," Romero said. "It doesn't mean that I will stop, it means that I will finish it up...I hope it stays here for a long time."

The mural, called "Aztlan", depicts Hispanic culture spanning throughout history. Romero wrote that the artwork demonstrates the "colors, cultures, arts, legends, fusion of cultures and ethnicities after the Spaniard conquest." It even includes a live dancer who performs traditional Hispanic dances in front of the piece.

The Grand Rapids Police Department is searching for whoever vandalized the mural. If you have any information about this, contact GRPD at 616-456-3400 or by visiting this page.

RELATED: Missing ArtPrize piece finds way back home after one day

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