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Local students give artistic facelift to vandalized South Bend hardware store

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When a small, local hardware store was hit by vandals in March, the owner wasn't mad, he just wished the graffiti "artists" had finished the job.

Of course that didn't happen, so WSBT helped put him in contact with a teacher from Washington High School. Now, that hardware store is getting a facelift — by real artists this time.

Back in March, the bright white wall of Ron Compton's west side hardware store, Ardmore Hardware, was defaced — vandalized with graffiti. Compton wasn't mad, though.

"They [the vandals] did a nice job actually," Compton said in March, "to me it looks better than just a plain old white wall. Would have been nice if they would have filled it in a little bit more. Put a nice picture scene or something like that on there."

Back then he had hopes someone from his old stomping ground, Washington High School, would come and put some real art on the wall.
 
So WSBT called up Sherry Sprouls, an art teacher from Washington High, and put her in touch with Compton.

"The idea of service and doing something for someone just because they need help is a really good thing," says Sprouls.

Sprouls gathered a group of her students.

"I am really grateful for these kids for stepping up and volunteering, and seeming to be really excited about it and happy to do it," says Sprouls.

"I knew Ron from before because I used to live right down the street. So I thought it was a good idea," says Kalene Peacock, a Washington High School Senior and one of three students helping out.

Sprouls and the students worked with Compton to come up with a design, which is now in the process of being painted on the giant canvas that is his hardware store.

"Everything is going to be great," says Compton, "I have absolutely no complaints. And I can't wait until it is done. I only hope that whoever is in the neighborhood doing this stuff doesn't come back and do it again."

The design boasts a giant black panther — a tribute to Washington High. The Statue of Liberty will hold a prominent place on the wall next to an American flag — something for which this retired Marine and Vietnam vet is passionate.
 
"Words do not describe how enthused I am about this," says Compton, "it is such an improvement. Make whole neighborhood look better. Hopefully it will attract more customers. Not that it is bad now.  Business is good...this is going to make it better."

All the paint was donated by the Bostwisk-Braun Company, one of Compton's vendors.

Sprouls says if the weather cooperates the work should be done within the next week. And while Sprouls and the teens are doing the work for free: "But I will take care of that all. In this day and age nothing is free. if it doesn't go to the kids themselves, then Washington High School Art will be taken care of," says Compton.

Compton says he hopes this artwork keeps the vandals away forever.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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