Bobby McKenna Rescues Switchbox After Vandalism

When life gives you lemons, it’s time to make lemonade and that’s what artist and Marine veteran Bobby McKenna did when one of his pieces of art – an intricately designed switchbox at Washington and Sargent streets – was tagged sometime last week with black paint.

McKenna had spent eight hours a day for three weeks painting the switchbox, and now it will take another week to repair. McKenna found out about the act of vandalism through a friend. When he went to see it for himself he was beyond devastated.

Bobby McKenna works on one of the City’s switchboxes.

“I immediately started thinking how hard it would be to get the paint off,” he explained since there is a clear coat covering every layer of paint. McKenna said luckily where the person had painted – he was able to clean off a lot and ended up using the black graffiti paint as shading for some other artwork.

“I couldn’t have figured out a better way to do it myself,” he said.

According to Elle Baker, City of Revere Project Planner in the Office of Strategic Planning and Economic Development, said the city received a grant to artistically paint the switchboxes around the city. McKenna completed one on Beachmont last year. The Beachmont box is replica of an old-fashioned radio.

Baker said McKenna’s switchbox was not the only one tagged in the city. Four boxes have been hit.

“These artists do so much it’s disheartening those who are tagging have no regard,” Baker said.

The box at Washington and Sargent streets is a walk-through Revere’s history, from the glory days at the beach to the recent ending of horse racing at Suffolk Downs. There’s Slade Spices, Madeline Berlo and her Diving Girls, the Cyclone, High-Diving Horses, Revere Beach 1883, crossroads to Wonderland (one of the parks Walt Disney was inspired by.) There are also crossroad signs pointing to the countries residents of Revere come from such as Italy, Morocco, Brazil, Columbia,   Turkey and Ireland. You’ll also find references to the Battle of Chelsea Creek and yes, even Harry Potter and “Game of Thrones.”

“We are all angered and disappointed that thoughtless individuals would so maliciously damage public property,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “This flagrant conduct destroys the colorful and pleasing artwork that decorates utility boxes and was the result of hours of diligence by talented artists.  We are equally outraged that anyone could be so inclined to destroy property anywhere in our city.  We take this affront to our sensibilities seriously, and Revere Police will investigate and take proper action against any individuals found responsible for such reprehensible behavior.”

Police Chief James Guido said the culprit could face a charge of malicious destruction of property, a fine and even restitution.

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