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

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Casey Schreiner

Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Modern Hiker
Since founding Modern Hiker in 2006, Casey's writing has appeared in Backpacker, Adventure Journal, the REI Blog, Active.com and Sierra Trading Post's Social Hub.

He has also been featured on Good Morning America, NPR, and the Associated Press, as well as in documentaries for Columbia Sportswear and the OTIS College of Art and Design.

Casey was one of eight people chosen by the National Parks Foundation to participate in the 2015 Find Your Park Expedition. His first book "Day Hiking Los Angeles," will be published by Mountaineers Books in 2016.
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This post was written by Casey Schreiner on February 27, 2015

78 Comments

  • Emilio Verdugo says:

    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.

  • Virgil Rocks says:

    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.

    • Scott Turner says:

      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.

  • Robert Smith says:

    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

  • Mike says:

    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.

  • cawoman23 says:

    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.

    • Scott Turner says:

      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.

  • Mark Galanty says:

    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.

  • Mitch Walker says:

    Dude. Modern Hiker is just awesome.

  • It’s a shame that the suspect managed to escape the United States before being apprehended, I would have loved to see that filthy vandal in jail while his lawyers try to bail him out.

  • Bob Hazelton says:

    The rock in the latest update is NOT the same rock that was tagged.
    I will send the visual evidence to Casey as there’s no way to show it here.

    • The rock in the Instagram photo does appear to match the shape of the marked boulder and readers have noted that the original marked boulder does seem to appear to have been moved in some way – possibly flipped over.

      We can’t say with any certainty if that is the case here, and I don’t think we’ll be able to until we hear from Park Service investigators or until a knowledgable person can get out there to take a look at the boulder.

      If you have images you’d like to send, please send them to hello at modernhiker dot com, but I have to be careful that this doesn’t become the Zapruder film of rocks :)

  • Tara Kerin says:

    This article updates that it has been removed, but the person responsible for the clean up is unknown…. But in the post regarding the ongoing fight between the lawyers, Mr. Saravia’s lawyer claims Andre himself cleaned it up just a few days later. Can he be punished for the vandalism and the sloppy clean up?

  • Billy Yang says:

    Beyond incensed. Fuck that guy.

  • susana says:

    Cher Msr. Andre. How do you say…You really fucked up…Because you are such a famous asshole–oh, I mean artist–you think it’s ok to deface America’s National Parks. Do you also do your “art” in the Tulleries? The Louvre? How about Chartres Cathedral? Perhaps your fellow countrymen have more respect for your art, but how do you say…here it is taken as a sign of disrespect. Do us all a favor and stay home.
    Yours sincerely, America

  • Jams says:

    Now if we could just keep that pesky Lord Byron away from the Temple of Poseidon…

  • For everyone who has been following this story, we have written a full update in a new post, complete with legal documents.

  • Rafal says:

    It’s really sad that this “artist” thought it was OK to vandalize a National Park. Great job with your detective work.

  • Bob Hazelton says:

    Forget DRUG sniffing dogs.
    Forget BOMB sniffing dogs.
    .
    What Joshua Tree National Park needs to do is train a PAINT sniffing dog!
    A dog that can detect spray paint, magic markers, nail polish and other substances that could be used for illegal tagging.
    Make those substances illegal in the parks first. Then when they’re detected in a vehicle people can either throw them in the trash or turn around and go back home.

    #DontBeMrAndre

  • MaXiMuS501 says:

    We need to put some pressure on this guy to acknowledge what he did, apologize and make amends for his actions. Basically, this guy came into our National Park, defaced it with his tag (not even art) and posted it on his Instagram, then lied about it being in the park and was allowed to leave without any consequences. I feel we should hijack his #MrA hashtag or otherwise raise hell so the only way he can move on from it is to publicly apologize for the tag and lying and then pay for a cleanup or donate to an origination that helps protect our parks.

  • KB says:

    Hopefully, he’ll try this type of thing in some other “less civilized” country where the solution is less likely to be a fine, and more likely to be something far worse and final.

  • M. Richard says:

    Regarding the letter from the lawyer you mentioned on twitter, is it alleging defamation? If so, assuming this is a matter of public concern (which seems likely), to have a claim under California law he would have to proof both that (a) the statements made were false, and (b) that you failed to use reasonable care to determine the truth or falsity of the statement(s). See this link: https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/1700/1702.html

    As long as a statement is substantially true, then there can be no liability for defamation. The first amendment is pretty protective of true speech in this country. Are you going to post a copy of the letter to crowd source ideas for a response.

  • His Facebook profile is here–just left him a message… https://www.facebook.com/andre.saraiva.5245/friends

  • bob says:

    I find him lying about it more annoying than the act. Had he just admitted it and apologized, would be one thing But lying makes him look like an absolute douche with no sense of personal responsibility.

  • Lendall says:

    Students of psychology know that there is a “Dark Triad” of traits that characterize negative, destructive people: Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychotropy, callous insensitivity to the feelings of others. More and more society seems to be rewarding “Dark Triad” people, which is disturbing. It seems to me that this individual is clearly a Dark Triad person.

  • Michelle says:

    Just noticed this. I am so grateful for this community of people who love the outdoors so much to track him down and prove him wrong, and we should all do our part to spread the word that A. You are not making nature any better by tagging it and B. You will get caught in this age of social media.

    This guy seems hella sketchy and deserves to be called out.

  • Plenty of great ways to enjoy nature, make art and destroy nothing through all of it. Terrible to see people with the means to find financial support and permission go the easy route and just do whatever they selfishly think will “improve” the scene. With a little creativity these people could really inspire by linking art and nature…all this does it hurt both causes…

    Check out my Art+Nature project below…hoping to continue with in-progress pics of art being created in nature, not ON nature, once I get some more time and less -10 degree weather here in WI.
    https://www.behance.net/gallery/20923919/Natural-Canvas

  • Colorado Gal says:

    Been out of the loop for a few weeks and just catching up. Nice work, Casey! I can’t even begin to understand the ego involved that leads someone to assume his/her artwork is more beautiful and wanted than the natural world. Not cool, man.

  • Is “artist” a synonym for a$$hole?

  • Caito Samul says:

    It’s a rock

    • Yes. It’s a rock inside a National Park that is protected by federal law and owned by every single American citizen (including future generations), and vandalism of this nature is a sadly commonplace problem that is unfortunately promoted when done by a high-profile street artist. If you are actually interested in why people care about rocks, I’ve already explained why this is a serious issue the last time we had a National Parks vandal on our hands.

  • dave says:

    He is a foreign national. His visa should be revoked post haste.

  • Ernesto says:

    This is great! We caught one of these Morons by virtue of his lame Instagram tags. Shot himself in the foot.

  • Joshua Tree National Park has had to (temporarily) close two different park locations recently due to extensive vandalism. Meanwhile, near the town of Joshua Tree, Coyote Hole, a beautiful area with dozens of Native American petroglyphs is repeatedly vandalized. And now we have (another) artist who thinks it is acceptable to go tag our national park. My magazine and PBS show keep working to encourage respect for our public lands, while these folks keep destroying them. Several years ago, my wife worked on restoring about a dozen Native American pictograph and petroglyph sites inside the park that had been extensively vandalized. I’m for full prosecution and restitution from those who choose to damage and destroy sites within our national parks.

  • Nick says:

    Report this to the relevant authorities and see if we can get this POS banned from future travel to the US and hopefully detained at the border and jailed for a while before they deport his ass. I don’t can’t think of anything we lose by making sure this trash can never set foot inside our national parks again.

  • AnotherFrenchie says:

    He’s French, right? Isn’t defacing a national parks area a federal offense? If so and he has a green card and not a US passport, he should have his green card taken away from him. That might put a damper on his attitude.

  • I’d like to say a great big ‘Thank you!!” to everyone involved who ‘outted’ this guy’s defacing of JTNP…it isn’t art when it’s done inside a national park…I am 36 year Joshua Tree resident and I am sad to say I am seeing the incidence of graffiti and other vandalism, aka art, being inflicted on the park more and more….I was hiking recently (I won’t say where but I’m sure other hikers have seen it) and a well known historic building had a huge ugly black skull tagged on it…kind of looked like this guys style…all I can say is leave JTNP alone!!!!!

  • casey_cmc says:

    Whoever added this to his Wikipedia, thank you, you beat me to it. How about a whitehouse.gov petition now?

  • Skyhiker says:

    Impressive job by you and your readers. Keep up the good work!

  • Kass says:

    Thanks for keeping up the pressure!

  • Re: third update. Don’t know where that is, but I don’t think it’s Joshua Tree. Looks like the shore–those look like snails and barnacles at the bottom of the picture.

  • Brian Eagen says:

    Does anyone recognize where this larger graffiti might be (3rd update)? I am heading into the park next week, and I would love to know if this too is in the park.

    What a shame…

  • NateKat says:

    Thanks for tracking these issues and helping to document the evidence before it’s taken down! Hopefully as more people are held accountable for such crimes, fewer people will commit such crimes.

  • These shitters keep this up, the administrators for the public lands have no choice but to close the land to access. :(

    • Closure may do more harm than good. If they can’t stop graffiti when the public is “in and about” the park, it will be harder to stop when the public not watching. Also, enforcing a closure would be “problematic” too.

  • Robert says:

    There is no place for the ugly scrawlings of this pseudo-artist scumbag and his ilk in either the urban or the rural environment. Those who condone graffiti in the cities have no right to complain when it appears in the wilderness. It’s the expression of a criminal subculture, of people who have nothing to say and are desperate to be noticed. This asshole should at least be in jail, though I am tempted to agree with Raiders that being shot would be a more suitable punishment.

  • Brent says:

    I’m glad you are outing these criminals and liars. I too think that street art is wonderful – on the street – but it has no place in our national parks and preserves.

  • Jeff Hester says:

    When will they learn? You don’t deface our open spaces without consequence.

  • Kevin says:

    The post has been deleted from his IG feed. Sure doesn’t look like it was on private property after all…

  • (sigh) Don’t mess with the outdoors folks.

  • loopsmancamping says:

    I can appreciate tagging and graffiti art… but let’s keep in in the cities. NOT in a national park or any park.

  • He finally did an update by deleting critical comments within the last few minutes

  • Christine Rogers says:

    So this douchebag just recorded and published himself breaking federal law?

  • James Harvey says:

    What exactly is Mr. Andre famous for? If that is an indication of the quality of his “art” standards have fallen mightly low indeed. Any fool with a spray can could do that. And apparently one did.

  • raiders says:

    These idiots should be shot!!!!

  • Kristin Sabo says:

    100% in agreement, Casey. Graffiti in our open spaces is reaching epidemic levels. Mr. Andre’s behavior is part of the problem.

  • Jessika says:

    agree with you here 100% and it’s sketchy he hasn’t updated anything proving/further elaborating that this is indeed a “private backyard”, which, frankly doesn’t look to be at all! People, if you truly love nature, don’t f**k it up by defacing it or littering in it.

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