Hong Kong Artist, Organization Clash over North Side Mural

By Jones, Diana Nelson | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), August 22, 2016 | Go to article overview

Hong Kong Artist, Organization Clash over North Side Mural


Jones, Diana Nelson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The creation of a mural on the North Side has resulted in a clash of artists and a social media buzz after a visiting muralist from Hong Kong accused her sponsor of violating her work.

In early summer, a dozen teenagers began painting the side of 1500 Arch St. as part of the MLK - Moving the Lives of Kids - Community Mural Project. The property owner, Jacob Hanchar, approved a design that was mostly that of Cara To's, a street artist from Hong Kong.

According to MLK's executive director Kyle Holbrook, some of his own work and that of Tim Engelhardt, a muralist whom he hired as one of two site managers, also was to have been included.

The project lasted six weeks, ending Aug. 5, but Cara To returned to the site last week to "figure out how to repair it," she said.

Compared to the image Mr. Hanchar wanted, the wall last week included numerous alterations and most of the work done by the youth is gone.

Cara To said her original design was altered to such a degree that, in a video she shared on social media, she called it "art rape."

Various artwork was painted over, with both Mr. Holbrook and Cara To blaming the other.

Cara To's design was based on Andy Warhol's blond treatment of Marilyn Monroe. Around the bright yellow hair, she placed the face and hands of a young black woman, but with stylistic designs around the nose and the eyes. The woman's hands hold a string of paper dolls. One small rectangle shows a yellow bridge and blue sky above it.

Mr. Holbrook said he worked in "negative space" on the wall and "would never paint over another artist's work. …

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