Spray paint artists bring color to Salem buildings

SALEM – A medium used by many to vandalize has become the brush of choice for Salem area artists Brad Vingle and Rustin Rapp, who have skillfully used spray paint to create beauty on three downtown buildings.

Their colorful artwork can be seen easily, by car or by foot, with the first mural by Rapp located on a wooden barricade on State Street between Lincoln Avenue and Penn Avenue.

A large koi fish swimming in restful waters greets people traveling south on Ellsworth Avenue, with Vingle turning the side of the Moonstone Massotherapy building into his personal canvas.

The two Salem High School graduates teamed up this week to create a mural out of their aliases, Trap and Drone, on the south upper floor wall of a building at the corner of Lundy Avenue and Second Street.

“I think it’s magnificent, beyond my expectations. I did not expect the level of quality they’ve done,” Scott Cahill said. “Nobody could do better.”

Cahill owns all three buildings and became acquainted with the artists through Rustin’s brother, Shawn, who works for his company, CI Ohio. Both Vingle and Rapp took art classes in high school, but that’s where their formal training ended. They’ve been honing their craft on the wall at Waterworth Memorial Park, where artists can legally create graffiti art.

“I taught myself how to use a spray can and make it clean and crisp,” Vingle said.

He explained that some of the spray paint he uses is professional and some is the same spray paint found in any home improvement store.

“We’re giving them places to do their artwork,” Cahill said.

He and his wife, Lisa, commissioned them to do the work on the three buildings and other businesses are expressing an interest in the artwork. He said more murals can be expected – they just have to figure out where.

Besides using their spray painting skills for good, they’re also setting an example for other young artists looking for a canvas, teaching them a better way than tagging and vandalizing buildings. Rapp said they know a lot of people and they’re using word-of-mouth to get the message out against the tagging in town.

About seven or eight artists, including Rapp and Vingle, helped with the anti-graffiti group’s clean-up event last month, enduring the cold weather to scrub graffiti from buildings along

Sugartree Alley and in other areas of Salem. Rapp offered thanks to city officials for giving them the chance to do what they’ve done.

He previously said the murals are a way to show that not all graffiti is vandalism.

The Cahills plan to give artists a chance to win some prizes and show off their skills during a Street Art Contest on June 22 during the Salem Super Cruise in the parking lot of their building at the corner of Lundy Avenue and Second Street. They expect to have 10 wooden panels set up for artist to do their thing.

People from the art community will judge the submissions at 6 p.m., with the contest beginning at 10 a.m. Artists will be required to supply their own paints and brushes or spray paints. For information about the contest, send an email to savedowntownsalem@gmail.com. The contest will be limited to the first 10 artists to register.

Businesses interested in having a mural done can also make contact with Rapp and Vingle through the email.

Cahill said the effort is not part of Murals of Salem, but something they decided to do to brighten up their buildings.

“It’s just really fun art,” he said.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at mgreier@salemnews.net