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Key Bridge victims mural moved indoors for storage, with possible museum future eyed

Christine Condon and Cassidy Jensen, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE — Alongside Baltimore City fire engines and inflatable rescue boats in a Locust Point garage rests a beloved mural, created to honor the victims of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

The 11 massive canvases that made up the painting had sat in a patch of grass across from a Royal Farms convenience store in Hawkins Point, part of a sprawling homemade memorial to the six construction workers who perished when the bridge fell.

But after nearly two months outside in the elements along Fort Smallwood Road, it came time Tuesday for the mural to move indoors, allowing its Texas-based artist Roberto Marquez to step back from his role as guardian of the shrine, which evolved into a serene gathering place for those impacted by a far-reaching tragedy.

The mural’s fate isn’t clear. But already, at least one museum has shown interest: the Baltimore Museum of Industry, which has started assembling a collection focused on the history of the bridge. Marquez said he is open to a museum hosting the artwork, but no final decision has been made.

In the meantime, city and state officials helped Marquez find a storage location next door to the museum, an old Baltimore City Fire Department repair shop on Key Highway, with a wide-open garage large enough to fit the mural’s 7-foot-tall panels.

Much of the memorial will remain in place about 2 miles from the collapsed bridge, at the request of some victims’ families: the six tall crosses, adorned with photographs and mementos; the flags representing each of the four countries the victims hailed from — El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico — alongside a large American flag; perhaps even the bright red truck, painted to mimic the vehicles that the workers were sitting in when the bridge fell from beneath them.

 

The relocation of the mural, filled with the families’ handwritten messages of grief and loss, was a difficult moment for some of them, Marquez said. But it was time.

“I’m not with an organization. I’m not a millionaire. I decided to help them, but eventually it’s getting real difficult,” Marquez said.

Marquez recently witnessed the sudden removal of a similar memorial he created for workers in Ocala, Florida, after just a few days. While the owners of the land where the mural sits now have not asked for its removal, Marquez said he needs to leave Baltimore and move on to other projects. He was concerned that vandals could damage the memorial if left unattended, or that it could end up in the trash.

An official with Talen Energy, which owns the land the memorial stands on and the nearby Brandon Shores power plant, previously said the company “respects both its presence and meaning to the community.”

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©2024 The Baltimore Sun. Visit at baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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