The iconic "Machine" mural on North Williams Avenue was vandalized last week.

Artist Tom Cramer's brightly-colored mural, painted in 1989, is a landmark on the rapidly-changing street and it became a lightning rod for artists rights when the building "Machine" is painted on was bought by local architect Daniel Kaven earlier this year, prompting rumors of new development.

The two gray graffiti tags appeared on the "Machine" mural late Sunday night or early Monday morning. Cramer immediately filed a police report and put out a call for information on the Save "Machine" from Demolition Facebook page.

(photo from Tom Cramer)
(photo from Tom Cramer)

"It seems like it may have been some type of inside job," says Cramer, "because this is the first time anything on this scale has occurred in the nearly thirty years of the murals existence." He calls it a "hideous and criminal act."

"I immediately primed over the violated parts and my plan is to re-paint immediately," says Cramer.

(photo from Tom Cramer)
(photo from Tom Cramer)

The mural is protected from destruction or defamation by a 1990 Federal Law called the Visual Artists Right Act. Cramer and his lawyer say they will pursue legal action if developers move to tear down the mural.

Portland Police visited the mural on Thursday and are launching an investigation into the graffiti.

"Never in the history of the mural has such a horrible violation occurred," wrote Cramer in an e-mail asking supporters for any information on the tagging. So far, no one has come forward.