Graffiti ‘war’ between Sintex, out-of-towners turns ugly in Detroit

Detroit-based artist Sintex painted this mural over another one by a Baltimore artist in August.
Detroit-based artist Sintex painted this mural over another one by a Baltimore artist in August. Photos by Steve Neavling.

Controversial graffiti muralist Sintex declared war on out-of-town artists this summer – and it’s getting ugly.

In August, Sintex painted over a large mural that honored Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American beat to death by two white men in Highland Park in 1982. The mural was painted by Baltimore artist Gaia as part of the popular Grand River Creative Corridor on Detroit’s west side.

Soon after, Sintex painted over another mural on Grand River – this one by Los Angeles artist Revok, who was working on the Detroit Beautification Project. Sintex painted an image of Tupac clutching a gun, next to the words, “I got the juice now.”

Detroit artist Sintex painted this image of Tupac over a mural by LA artist Revok.
Detroit artist Sintex painted this image of Tupac over a mural by LA artist Revok.

When the mural was buffed, Sintex painted a portrait of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who strangely is holding a placard with the name “Sintex.”

On Instagram, Sintex, who is black, said “a race war” would erupt if someone painted over his Rosa Parks image.

“u gotta be a fuckin dick to go over rosa parks on rosa parks blv.. I am out here raining supreme over theese toys..they know they cant fuck with me.. they diss pac..my pi ru homies will see them fuckerz..and the rest of Detroit who loves pac..its going back up..prob over some fuck who doesn’t belong.”

Sintex painted over a mural by a Los Angeles artist
Sintex painted another mural of Rosa Parks with the words, “Get off the bus!”

Then this month, one of Sintex’s most notable murals– Art of War –in the Grand River Creative Corridor was defaced with a black, bubbly lettered, “Revok.”

The word "Revok" is painted over Sintex's "Art of War" mural.
The word “Revok” is painted over Sintex’s “Art of War” mural.

 

At the Eastern Market this month, large-scale murals by Revok and his Los Angeles-based crew MSK were vandalized.

MSK Revok
This mural in the Eastern Market was defaced recently. It was painted by MSK, a group of Los Angeles-based artists that includes Revok.
This mural in the Eastern Market was faced recently. It was painted by MSK, a group of Los Angeles-based artists that includes Revok.
Another mural by MSK that was defaced at the Eastern Market.

Sintex has been vocal on social media about his disdain for out-of-towner murals, saying more curated work should go to local artists. (A lot of it does. Check out the locally painted HopCat in Midtown. “The Z” parking garage in downtown and the Grand River Creative Corridor include local and out-of-town artists.)

When I tried to interview Sintex for a story this summer, he didn’t mince words. He was angry that I wrote a story about him painting over the Vincent Chin mural.

“I wished I kicked u in yo fuckin neck,” he wrote to me on Facebook. “Kill yourself better than what I am going to do.”

Here is the Vincent Chin mural.

 

Vincent chin mural

Vincent chin mural

Vincent chin mural

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.