San Luis Obispo stencil artist Daniel Woehrle, also known by the moniker STENZSKULL, woke up to a bizarre surprise on election day. A painting by Woehrle depicting President Barack Obama alongside the words “hope” and “change” had turned up as a 15-foot mural inside a polling place in Philadelphia, Pa.
The mural made national news after several Republican officials complained, pointing out that electioneering inside polling places is illegal under state law. Among them was Tim Miller, deputy communications director at the Republican National Committee, who tweeted a picture of the mural with the words “Unreal: Obama mural inside polling place in Philly.”
Workers at the polling place were ordered by a Pennsylvania election judge to temporarily cover up the image, which was oriented directly behind voting machines. Workers covered the president’s likeness with paper, though a quote from Obama and his campaign logo, also included in the mural, were left visible.
The creation of the mural wasn’t a recent event. The polling place in question was a school in Philadelphia’s Ward 35, where the piece had been one of two new murals painted in 2009 following a student vote. Though Woehrle didn’t paint the mural, he created the original painting in 2008 for an art show in Washington, D.C., following Obama’s inauguration. He based the piece on a photograph of the president taken by Justin Hankins, who first alerted Woehrle of the stir the mural was causing.
“I said, yeah, that’s my painting, really big on a wall,” a baffled Woehrle told New Times. “I really had nothing to do with it. It’s been four years since I painted that image.”
The controversy has been covered by several major news organizations, though Woehrle and Hankins’ names have yet to come up.
“They probably have no idea where it came from,” Woehrle said.