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Where's Waldo? In Boulder, but maybe not for long

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Waldo came and disappeared from the Arhaus Furniture store in Boulder back in April, but he wasn't done yet; since then, a stencil of the famously elusive children's cartoon character has been popping up in several hard-to-spot locations all over Boulder, steadily attracting the attention of Boulder blogger Blempgorf and, earlier this week, the Boulder Daily Camera's Heath Urie. Now, it seems, he's also attracted the attention of Boulder Public Works, and he may not last much longer.

Photos by Brandon Marshall.

But it won't be through any complaint on the part of the people whose businesses' walls he's popped up on; Larry Burnett, owner of the Diagonal Plaza, where one Waldo appeared, told the Camera's Urie that he was "enjoying it. Normally, I deal with graffiti immediately, but I don't mind that."

It may not be his option, though, according to Boulder Public Works spokeswoman Jody Jacobson: "Any graffiti, if it's a commercial property, we'll ask them to remove the graffiti," she says. "Graffiti is not allowed." Here's what's interesting, though: It seems that, even though they removed the Waldo from Arhaus back in April, the other Waldos were not even on BPW's radar until they became of it through Urie, when he was working on his story. "We heard about it through a reporter," she admits. From there, BPW went ahead and did what it always does: "We're sending them letters asking them to remove the graffiti as our process requires." Those letters ask for the offending art to be taken down within three days, or the owner could face a ticket -- even if the owner wants it to stay up. "If they wanted to paint something on their own building, that would be allowed," Jacobson explains, "but if somebody trespassed and painted something without asking, that's illegal. So unless we hear that it was legally commissioned art, our assumption is that it was somebody who was trespassing, and we have an obligation to treat all graffiti the same." And what if the owners protest? "No decisions have been made so far. That may be up to the enforcement officers and a conversation with upper management about how we proceed." For law enforcement's part, though, there's apparently not much in the works. "We hadn't really gotten complaints about Where's Waldo," says Boulder Police Spokeswoman Kim Kobel. "There's not a lot that we're doing. Without suspect information, it's a challenging investigation." Indeed, the Where's Waldo painter has been even harder to find than the character himself; there's no Tumblr, no Flickr, no blog, just a few Waldos around town and more occasionally appearing -- one apparently went up near 28th and Colorado within the last few days. In the meantime, it remains to be seen if the Waldos at the Diagonal Plaza and the Brewing Market will stay up, but the ones on public land are pretty sure not to -- so see them while you can! We put together a handy Google map below.

And if you are or know who our Waldo painter is, drop us a line! We want to hear from you.


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