Lao Tzu mural second Chinatown painting vandalized in two weeks

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      For the second time in two weeks, a mural in Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood has been badly vandalized with graffiti.

      The painting at the corner of Pender Street and Gore Avenue covers the entire west side of a building there that borders a vacant lot.

      It depicts Lao Tzu (also known as Laozi), a Chinese intellectual and poet who lived during the Zhou Dynasty sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C. He is best-known for founding Taoism, a Chinese philosophical tradition.

      The Lao Tzu mural in Chinatown was completed in 2010.

      According to, the Lao Tzu mural was designed by Kenson Seto and painted by Ali Li and Falk. It was completed in October 2010.

      A quote of Lao Tzo’s appears in the mural’s top-left corner.

      “It takes knowledge to understand others, but it needs a clear mind to know oneself,” it reads. “It takes strength to surpass others, but it requires a strong will to surpass oneself.”

      The damage was noticed on Monday, September 21. Lindsay Brown and Jane Shi were among several people who saw what had happened and subsequently posted photographs of the mural on Twitter.

      The graffiti that now covers the mural stands more than 20 feet tall and conceals much of the original painting with messy black lettering that loosely resembles the word Americas.

      This second act of vandalism follows a similar incident that occurred earlier this month and just a few blocks away.

      A mural celebrating Chinese Canadian history at the corner of Pender and Columbia streets was recently defaced by graffiti.
      Richard Marquez

      On September 8, the Straight reported that someone had defaced a series of historical murals located at 490 Columbia Street near the corner of Pender.

      Titled “A Snapshot of History”, those Vancouver Chinatown murals stand in recognition of Chinese Canadians and those communities’ contributions to British Columbia.

      Those paintings at Columbia and Pender have since been restored.

      It is unlikely anyone will go to the same trouble to repair the Lao Tzu mural at Pender and Gore.

      In addition to the damage being on a much larger scale, the mural will soon be concealed by a new residential tower that’s planned for the vacant lot over which Lao Tzu looks west. In March 2015, Vancouver city council approved the rezoning of 450 Gore to allow for the construction of a six-storey tower that will include units marked as affordable housing.

      The Straight explored graffiti culture in Vancouver in a 2010 cover story. That article discussed how public murals deter illegal graffiti because most street artists do follow their code of ethics. It found the City of Vancouver actually has data proving a sanctioned mural will result in the surrounding area seeing a decline in illegal tagging.

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