Seattle’s iconic Bettie Page mural, visible from I-5, disfigured by homemade spray paint
The Bettie Page mural on the side of Jessica Baxter’s house is one of the few works of art you can see from Interstate 5 in Seattle. But it seems not everyone is happy: Earlier this week, vandals used red paint to degrade the mural, which features the 1950s pin-up model, with its iconic black bangs, and John Waters’ drag queen muse, Divine.
The mural, located at the intersection of Northeast Seventh Avenue and Northeast 59th Street, was attacked at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Baxter said. The vandals brought in glass Christmas decorations filled with red oil-based paint, she reported, and “tossed them at home”, leaving a mess behind them.
She said the vandals also left with a “Black Lives Matter” sign.
The attack happened so quickly, Baxter said, that by the time she woke up and came to the window, whoever had targeted Bettie and Divine was gone.
Baxter said she had no idea who was behind the nighttime attack. They “didn’t leave a business card or a manifesto,” she said wryly. She reported the assault to the police.
The mural has been received more positively by others.
A GoFundMe page set up to cover repainting expenses had already surpassed its fundraising goal of $ 4,000 by Thursday afternoon. “This mural is linked to many great summer memories and it is a beautiful work of art!” wrote a donor.
Originally painted in 2005 by artist John Green, the mural had already been attacked in 2016. Also at the end of June of the same year, vandals threw gray paint on the mural and , the Seattle Times reported at the time, left a message: “Stop exploiting female bodies” – signed only “some feminists”.
Contemporary accounts and comments from those who knew or were involved in Page’s work suggest that this is a misreading.
As the artist Olivia De Berardinis said in Los Angeles Times in a 2008 obituary of the model: “[I]It took me years to figure out what I was seeing in the old photographs of her. Now I understand. There was a passion game going on in his mind. What some see as a bad girl image was actually some sultry freedom and role play – it was part of the fun of being a woman.
After the 2016 vandalism, the artist Two Thangs fixed the damage to Page and added the second image, that of drag queen Divine.
“The ladies became quick friends and we were so proud to have such amazing and unique art in our home to share with passers-by on I-5,” Baxter wrote on the GoFundMe page. “People tell us all the time that they love painting and it makes us so happy to contribute to a sense of community that was once [a] brand in Seattle, but is in decline.
Baxter said Two Thangs will return this month to fix the job again. “We will continue to put it back,” she said.
On her GoFundMe page, Baxter said house painters she had previously hired for a different project “kicked into action” the morning the wall paint was blemished, using a pressure washer and paint thinner. on a historically hot day to clean up most of the oil-based “red glops. But Bettie and Divine” will still need a touch up.
For this, Two Thangs will come from Rhode Island to work his magic on the icons. “We just want our daughters to come back and we want him to be paid well for it,” Baxter said.