A Modern Hiker reader contacted me last night, alerting me to the feed of street artist Andre Saraiva (Mr. Andre).

On Andre’s Instagram feed, the well-known street artist appears to have spent some time in Los Angeles before heading out to the desert, partially to enjoy the setting of Joshua Tree.

Unfortunately, one of his posts dated February 25th, Mr. Andre took his particular brand of artwork from the street to nature.

Mr-Andre-Boulder

Unlike the Creepytings instances, there was no geotagging or easily identifiable location inside the National Park attached to this image.

Via Instagram, Andre claimed this piece was “created with love in a friends privet [sic] backyard.”

Mr Andre Response

Previous images showed the artist’s work on the 29 Palms Inn. When I called, they verified the artist did have permission to paint on their walls.

Andre asked me to remove the boulder image from my Instagram feed. All I asked for was an update to the original image stating clearly that the work was done on private property, something that might show his fans and followers how to be a responsible street artist.

Asking Mr Andre

After more than two hours, Mr. Andre has not responded to our questions or updated the original image, although he has removed critical comments from his original post and banned people asking about the image from his account.

Exchange with Mr Andre

I can’t tell you if there’s a direct link between things like this and the truly staggering amount of graffiti that’s appeared in Joshua Tree over the past few years, but when street artists as famous as Mr. Andre post photos that even appear like they’re painting in nature without permission, it sends a powerful message that the outdoors is a fine canvas for your street art. And that, we feel, is a message that needs to be stopped.

UPDATE:

Our good friend and partner in crime-fighting Rebecca from Calipidder recognized the terrain from Mr. Andre’s photo, and has identified it as the trailhead to the Contact Mine – located inside Joshua Tree National Park.

I snagged some screenshots from Google Maps Street View (where you can almost definitely see the boulder Mr. Andre painted on underlined in red), as well as the topograpghic profile in 3D from CalTopo.

Still no comment from Mr. Andre.

contact-mine-1

Google Street View of the Contact Mine’s trailhead

contact-mine-2

CalTopo of the Trailhead’s topo profile

side-by-side

side-by-side comparison

 

SECOND UPDATE:

Twitter user DarthJenni clued me into the web privacy app Ready or Not, which tracks a user’s social media posts and maps their likely location.

Here is Mr. Andre’s recent posting activity:

Mr Andre's J Tree Activity Map

… and look who appeared to post right at the Contact Mine trailhead!

Mr Andre at Contact Mine

 

THIRD UPDATE: 

Jeff from SoCalHiker noticed this image on Mr. Andre’s web site (under Graffiti, Mr. A if you’re interested).

Not sure where this is but it certainly looks like Joshua Tree, doesn’t it?

Reader DESERTED just noted the EXIF data in this image is from July, 2013. We still don’t know where this is but it’s definitely not from this recent trip to Southern California. It does, however, show his willingness to tag on natural surfaces.

mr-andre-j-tree

 

FOURTH UPDATE:

We’ve been blocked from Mr. Andre’s Instagram account, but reader Kevin noted in the comments that Mr. Andre has deleted the original image from his Instagram feed.

FIFTH UPDATE:

We just got off the phone with Joshua Tree’s Chief Ranger Jeff Ohlfs. He thanked Modern Hiker readers for their diligence and “for being (their) extra eyes and ears in the park.” It sounds like a lot of you have called in or tagged Joshua Tree on social media, and Ohlfs said they had Mr. Andre “in (their) sights.”

We’ll stay on top of this story and will update as we get more information. Thank you to everyone who helped identify the location and report this story to the proper authorities. We hope Mr. Andre is held accountable for his actions and more importantly, learns the value of our natural landscapes.

SIXTH UPDATE:

Readers sent in this Facebook photo from today. A visitor was reading about the story and happened to be near the northern entrance – so she drove down to the trailhead to see if the tag was still there.

And it was.

tag-from-facebook

SEVENTH UPDATE:

On another user’s Instagram account, Mr. Andre claimed that the larger rock formation image was not done in Joshua Tree. He also said it was “much appreciated here over sea” and that “(his) graffitis are all about love and have the greatest respect for nature.”

We think there are much better ways to show love and respect for nature, don’t you?

Mr Andre Denial

 

LAist has picked up our story and hopefully will help spread the word and follow Mr. Andre. From what we’ve heard, Mr. Andre has left the country.

EIGHTH UPDATE:

Readers have found a profile on Mr. Andre in GQ from earlier this year.

andre-saraiva-why-i-go-to-fashion-shows-02

This guy.

In it, you can read about the artist’s fashion sense, his wonderful nightclubs, and how much he loves visiting Joshua Tree when he’s in Southern California.

The article has a comment section and also mentions many places he does business, just in case you have any strong feelings about the artist’s work you’d like to share.

NINTH UPDATE:

Mr. Andre has contacted us via his lawyers. Both his letter and our response can be read on our follow-up post.

TENTH UPDATE:

Tami Roleff, Managing News Editor for KCDZ-FM, saw our story and traveled out to the site of Mr. Andre’s alleged graffiti.

As of March 11th, 10:30AM, the graffiti has been removed and stripped clean of paint. She has provided images which we have posted below.

Mr-Andre-clean-1

Mr-Andre-Clean-2

a close-up of the boulder

At this time, we have not been able to determine who is responsible for the cleanup. The National Park Service is not commenting due to the ongoing investigation.

Roleff noted an abundance of sand on the back of the boulder and a lot of soil disturbance at its base, and it looks as if a layer of desert varnish may have been removed by whoever did this. According to the National Park Service web site, desert varnish generally takes thousands of years to form on rock surfaces like this.

Some readers have noted that the boulder looks like it may have been moved in comparison with earlier photos.

We found this image on Instagram of the boulder as it appeared last week, with the alleged markings covered up. The photographer is writer, environmental journalist, and tireless desert advocate Chris Clarke, who lives nearby.

Andre Saraiva's vandalism covered up by NPS.

A photo posted by Chris Clarke (@yucca.brevifolia) on

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.





78 Comments

Emilio Verdugo Jul 3, 2015 15:07

Tagging is not art. Tagging boulders where it is going to be there for a hundred years is not respect for nature- it is defacement. Graffiti can be artful, but most of what I see doesn't come close to the level of art. Given that graffiti is a public form of expression, we are subjected to having to view mostly visual garbage, but it has moved from the mostly urban sphere to non-urban sphere where every Kilroy (or Andre) has to make their presence felt. Unfortunately these dumb marks they are making say nothing of value except to try and raise their profile for people who actually think this crap is valuable.

Leave a Reply to Emilio Verdugo Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scott Turner

Scott Turner Jul 2, 2015 10:07In reply to: Virgil Rocks

Virgil, it's less about the rock than it is about the casual disrespect afforded to the natural environment, which in this case is heavily protected down to the smallest grain of sand. The act of painting on a rock is one of the most obvious symptoms of this disrespect; much more common is litter, more apparent vandalism on plants and trees, human and pet waste, shortcutting trails, and noise pollution from other hikers. For the people who care about their open spaces and are disheartened and disgusted about the way a fraction of hikers treat them, a little bit of paint on a rock is a straw breaking a camel's back.

Leave a Reply to Scott Turner Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Virgil Rocks Jul 1, 2015 01:07

Its a fucking rock you guys. Welcome to the USA. Rather seeing an empty rock than some random art. It's clean now, and now it looks like a billion other rocks. Congratulations. Now you can walk by it and not notice it because it's a plain old rock.

Leave a Reply to Virgil Rocks Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Robert Smith Jun 13, 2015 07:06

Great article modern hiker. People disrespecting natural environments with painted images is absolutely disgusting and you have inspired me to undertake my own vigilante mission. Did you know that scumbags have been painting on these rocks for over 10,000 years? over the last 3-4 weeks i have cleaned thousands of disgusting native american paintings off rocks found throughout the south-western united states to great success. I did run into some problems with the carved images until i realised that i could simply use wall spackle to fill them in, then rub some dirt on the surface to make it look like they were never there. I thank you for the inspiration and hope that with some motivation and vigilance we can do away with this vandalism. Since this abomination of a human being was a french man my next stop is to France, where i will enter and clean the walls of the Lascaux caves. Just look at this vandalistic garbage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lascaux#/media/File:Lascaux_II.jpg

Leave a Reply to Robert Smith Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mike May 3, 2015 09:05

Andre is using the media and his aggressive brand of disrespect for the natural environment and heritage sites as leverage to increase his visibility within the social spectrum which in turn, magically manifests into a significant positive cash flow into his bank account. His ego apparently only sees those things in which others find value as a target and an opportunity force himself into places where he's not wanted. He's no more that a spoiled, immature, self-centered, common, imbecilic, whiny brat. I'd suggest two things to stop Andre and his ilk;

1. follow him where ever he goes and physically restrain him when the paint can appears. He has no right to destroy or deface anything he does not personally own;
2. visit property he owns and find out how he feels if graffiti were to appear in places he considers off-limits. Help him imagine motor oil spread across the carpet of his living room or tastefully painted on the walls of his house. Or perhaps he could come to appreciate beautiful messages expressing love and peace engraved across the windshield of his favorite modes of transportation. Or maybe he might even consider a tattoo - one that someone believes is tasteful, loving, and peaceful, and that would look quite nice painted on his forehead.

Leave a Reply to Mike Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scott Turner

Scott Turner Apr 28, 2015 20:04In reply to: cawoman23

I can very much understand people's anger about this, but I adamantly disagree with the logic of going to deface Mr. Saraiva's property. Two wrongs do not make a right. What is more damaging to him is the public perception that he has created for himself through this incident. If what he is displaying is in fact arrogance, it will - as arrogance almost always does - come back to him.

Leave a Reply to Scott Turner Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

cawoman23 Apr 27, 2015 10:04

Today's Los Angeles Times has an article re this incident and mentions Modern Hiker's initial article. Apparently numerous readers have demanded Saraiva's address. I had to laugh because that was my immediate thought: hey, what's his address, so people can go tag his home and see how much he enjoys their "art." I've been an avid hiker for decades and am so distressed at this trend. It takes appalling arrogance to deface nature in this manner. Thank you for your commitment.

Leave a Reply to cawoman23 Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

michaelgordon Apr 16, 2015 10:04

Update:
http://www.kcet.org/living/travel/socal_wanderer/national-park/artist-mr-andre-pays-fine-for-vandalizing-joshua-tree-national-park.html

Leave a Reply to michaelgordon Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Bryan Ferry Boat Mar 19, 2015 03:03In reply to:

He's fµck|ng swedish, not FRENCH

Leave a Reply to Bryan Ferry Boat Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mark Galanty Mar 13, 2015 18:03

Thanks Modern Hiker for doing this investigative journalism on this Lying foreign criminal. I think the lying shows what a coward this person is.

I hope this man is added to Homeland security no fly list, and his green card is revoked. Or he is arrested next time he visits the US.

Leave a Reply to Mark Galanty Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Modern Hiker Newsletter

Learn about new trail guides, outdoor news, and events in the free Modern Hiker Newsletter. All original content and guaranteed not to flood your inbox -- new issues usually come every 2-3 weeks.