At first glance it was thought to be graffiti.
But the playful painting of a young deer turned out to be a work of art.
A Keller landscape worker recently discovered the doe on the wall of a tunnel that runs under Bear Creek Parkway, not far from Keller Town Hall.
“We check for graffiti a few times a week,” said Mike Sexton, a landscape crew leader. “I just happened to be over near the tunnel ... and saw it out of the corner of my eye.”
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Sexton was preparing to paint over the artwork until he gave the prancing doe a closer look.
“I’ve worked for the parks crew for 16 years and never seen anything like it,” he said. “It’s the coolest graffiti I’ve ever come across.”
Most of the graffiti that ends up on city property — often spray-painted scribblings — have negative or immature tones, Sexton said.
“To have someone create art — I was in awe,” he said.
City officials have not determined the identity of the artist, who is not in trouble.
“We would love to have whoever did this come forward so we could possibly talk about some other artwork we would like to get done,” said Gary Davis, the city’s park maintenance and development manager. “It is just so beautiful. There is no way we would cover over that.”
“There’s more room in that tunnel, so hopefully the artist will reach out to us,” he said.
Sarah Zamora, owner of Artful Mayhem Studio, a children’s art studio in Keller, said it’s important to understand the difference between graffiti and vandalism.
“As an artist myself and an art teacher, I think there’s a lot we can learn from street artists,” she said. “Graffiti is not a crime, it’s an art form — but, vandalism is not OK,” she said.
Zamora said she is hopeful the doe painting will lead to more street art in the city.
“There just aren’t a lot of murals around here,” Zamora said. “Who knows, maybe this will lead to more murals painted on appropriate places by screened artists.”
Ideally for Zamora, artists could have the chance to submit their art and be compensated for their work, she said.
“It would be amazing to see that happen in Keller,” she said.
If caught defacing property in Keller, offenders could face a Class C misdemeanor, which has a maximum fine of $500, said Rachel Reynolds, Keller’s public information officer.
At the very least, city officials are hoping the doe doesn’t become the victim of vandalism, Davis said.
“We just hope, because it is getting so much publicity, that someone doesn’t damage it or deface it,” he said. “Someone out there is very talented.”