Many rally to restore Grohl Alley

WARREN – An act of vandalism meant to destroy instead has galvanized city residents and brought together fans of the David Grohl Alley.

Area artists, musicians and residents will work together noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, cleaning up the damage done to the alley by a vandal last week.

The graffiti vandal sprayed over paintings and structures created specifically for the ally.

”The only thing for us to do is to fix it up and make it better,” said Aaron Chine, an independent artist and the owner of Chine Box Inc., a tattoo parlor in Austintown. ”I am talking to some of the artists that originally put work in the alley and have talked to some artists who want to put new work in it.”

Chine says he was very upset when he first learned and then saw the extent of the vandalism.

”At first I just wanted to hurt the person who did this,” he said. ”But the outpouring of support from people we do not know is making this much better. Everyone is on board to fix it up.”

The event will be called the ”Erase / Replace Rally,” after a song by the Foo Fighters, the band led by Grohl, a Warren native.

While the artists are doing their work, local musicians Matt Bowser and The Mitrega Brothers will be playing live music from noon to 4 p.m. The Derby Girls will be on hand in full uniform selling 50 / 50 raffle tickets. Also, a specially designed t-shirt printed by Artistics Silk Screening, which has a shop on the downtown Warren’s Courthouse Square, will be sold.

The artists are looking at ways to better protect the artwork, including the possibility of placing some kind of plexiglas in front of the work. Artists, so far, are paying for the repairs with money from their own pockets.

Joe O’Grady, a retired sergeant with the Warren Police Department who helped spearhead the alley, agreed that they are turning what was a negative to a positive.

”I see this as a positive pathway,” he said.

Everyone is invited to attend and help clean up the alley, donate or simply enjoy the music and the art. Local businesses on the square will be featuring specials. The Lime Tree, 187 W. Market St., will be serving food and craft beer during an after clean up event concert.

The Lime Tree Sandwich Gallery owner, Tom Ross, said the restaurant will have the Dennis Drummond Trio from 4 to 7 p.m. and Tim Drummond and Danny Lopez from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. that evening.

Keeping with the theme of Erase / Replace, Ross says the restaurant is replacing items on its menu. Also, Ross is using the event at the restaurant’s official Grand Opening.

”We are bringing in a new chef,” he said. “We are using our opening to bring attention to what is happening in the alley.”

Mayor Doug Franklin said the city’s first priority is to capture and convict the person who committed the vandalism.

”We (the city) made a huge investment in the alley,” said Franklin said. ”We resurfaced the road in the alley.”

Franklin said his administration will assist the artists in any way it could.

Paul Clouser, a member of the David Grohl Alley Committee, called the act of vandalism stupid.

”Joseph O’Grady and others said they knew this kind of incident would happen sooner or later,” said Clouser. ”The person who did this will go down in the dustpan of history. He likely will have to spend some time in jail.”

Police have charged 35-year-old Kurtis Aguilera of Miami, but who has ties to Warren, with a felony count of vandalism for the damage to the alley and a misdemeanor charge of criminal damaging for one of the many other items spray painted in the city’s business district. The charge rises to the level of a felony based on the dollar value of what’s damaged, police said.

Aguilera is still at large.