Anger, disappointment and shock after mural vandalized in downtown Steamboat Springs |

Anger, disappointment and shock after mural vandalized in downtown Steamboat Springs

Isabelle Boniface rides by a mural that was recently vandalized at the back of Natural Grocers.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In a few minutes with a can of spray paint and a stencil, a vandal seriously damaged a piece of public art that Jeff Roth spent 10 days painting on a 130-foot stretch of the Natural Grocers building in downtown Steamboat Springs.

How to help

Call: Steamboat police at 970-879-1144 or Crime Stoppers at 970-870-6226

Text: NABM followed by the tip to 274637

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around how to fix it,” Roth said. “I’m speechless.”

Roth painted the mural, titled “Yampa River Flow,” in 2016. It is anchored at either end with images of the rising and setting sun, which emanate large rays of light with the curves of the Yampa River between them.

It’s thought the vandal struck Sunday night. There are now five large faces and 42 smaller, maniacal-looking stenciled faces covering the mural.

At a glance

Existing murals

• “Howie” by Chula Beauregard (Howelsen Ice Arena)
• “The Scream” by Steamboat Middle School students (West Lincoln Park bathroom)
• “Seasons in Steamboat” by Young at Art Creativity Camp Students (West Lincoln Park bathroom)
• “Western Town” by Chula Beauregard (Stockbridge playground)
• “The Emerald Garden” by Chula Beauregard (Yampa River Botanic Park)
• “Steamboat, circa 1910” by Chula Beauregard (Sasak building, along the Yampa River Core Trail)
• “Ski and Bike” by Chula Beauregard (Ski and Bike Kare)
• “Respect the Yampa” by Chula Beauregard (Back Door Sports)
• “Starry Night, Cafe Terrace at Night” by Dona Steele (Deja vu Boutique stairs)
• “Our Place, Our home” by Chula Beauregard (Strawberry Park Elementary School)
• “Gordon Campbell” by Chula Beauregard (Old Cook Chevrolet building along the Yampa River Core Trail)
• “Wings” by Jeff Roth (Kali’s Boutique)
• “Yampa River Flow” by Jeff Roth (Natural Grocers)
• “Mule Deer” by Bobby Magee Lopez (Steamboat Meat and Seafood)
• “Not titled” by Fernando Maldonado, Sierra Fallon and Katie Moore  (Steamboat Smokehouse)
• “In Memory of Salvador” by Fernando Maldonado (Old Town Pub)
• “Not titled” by Fernando Maldonado (Mambo Italiano)
• “Not titled” by Fernando Maldonado (inside former Townies location)
Unknown title by Julia Dordoni (Freshies)

In progress murals

• “America the Beautiful” by Bobby Magee Lopez (VFW)

Planned murals

• “The Second Falls at Fish Creek” by Lance Whitner (Pine Moon Gallery)
• “Yampa is Wild” by Jill Bergman (downtown Ambulance Barn)
• “Western Heritage” (location and artist TBD)

“The faces say it all,” said Roth, who is a former art teacher at Colorado Mountain College. “Just kind of sinister and evil.”

Similar stenciling also was discovered Monday on a construction trailer at Old Town Hot Springs. In the nearby tunnel, graffiti included the words “sorry, I was bored.”

“That’s disappointing for all that Steamboat offers with recreation and things to do,” Roth said. “That’s kind of the weakest excuse I’ve ever heard to tag.”

A Natural Grocers manager, who was not authorized to speak with the media, said she was shocked when she saw the vandalism for the first time Thursday.

There is a security camera pointed toward the area where the vandalism occurred. After seeing the damage, the manager said she would contact the corporate office to get video turned over to police, who are hoping to catch the person who is responsible.

“Hopefully, we catch a break with some video,” Steamboat Springs Police Department Cmdr. Jerry Stabile said.

The mural joins others that have been appearing across Steamboat as part of an initiative by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council that is funded in part through the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. Arts Council Executive Director Kim Keith said there is a transfer tax on real estate transactions at Howelsen Place and Alpen Glow condominiums that goes toward the Community Foundation fund.

Keith was also shocked to learn about the vandalism.

“You don’t mess with each other’s art,” Keith said. “For that to happen in Steamboat is so disrespectful. It kind of grosses me out.”

Keith said thousands of dollars were spent to create the mural.

“If we find out who did this, we will prosecute for sure,” Keith said.

“This is a community thing,” Roth said. “It’s not like it’s my artwork. The community paid for it. I don’t take ownership of it. I didn’t even sign it.”

Roth, who also painted the wings on the side of Kali’s Boutique, now lives in Prescott, Arizona. He is returning to Steamboat this weekend to visit friends, and he intends to spend some time trying to figure out how to repair the damage.

“That’s not a quick fix,” Roth said. “This is damage. This is not just vandalism. This is going to cost money to fix.”

People with any information about the vandalism can call the police at 970-879-1144, remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 970-870-6226 or text NABM followed by the tip to 274637.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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