Mook (graffiti artist)

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Mook is the graffiti moniker used by an American man Michael Monack, who was active in graffiti vandalism in Pittsburgh in the early 2000s. The name means "knucklehead or idiot."[1]. A copycat graffiti vandal named Marcus Edward Gunther[2] in Portland Oregon who subsequently tagged with the MOOK moniker was ultimately sentenced to two years in prison in February 2019 for repeated graffiti vandalism in the late 2010s.

Views of Mook's work
Close-up on "Mook" tag on South Tenth Street Bridge
view of bridgework Monack vandalized

Monack began as a tagger targeting the South Side and Shadyside neighborhoods, but after his tags were abated, he began placing his tags in hard to reach places, including tall bridges and highway overpasses.[1] He drew the ire of the then-Pittsburgh Mayor Thomas J. Murphy, Jr., who had tried to provide an outlet for individuals interested in graffiti to use the walls along the Eliza Furnace trail.[1] He has etched "Mook" onto a Department of Public Works "Graffiti Busters" truck that was tasked with cleaning up graffiti.[1] At one point, merchants from the South Side, tired of having their businesses targeted confronted Monack. He tagged "So you want to get tough?" on the Birmingham Bridge.[1] in response.

He became known around the community for vandalizing previously unheard of places.[1] According to Pittsburgh officials, "He's going into areas no one's gone before."[1] He became known among law enforcement across Pennsylvania.[3] After the media coverage of Monack's "Mook" tagging in the Pittsburgh area, it is possible that multiple copycats have applied graffiti using the moniker "Mook".[1] As Monack received more coverage for his daredevil mischief, he gained more opponents as well as supporters.[4] One of his supporters described him as "determined and skilled and has a sense of humor," commenting that "Although Mook has committed a crime, everyone loves him and he makes people happy."[5] Others objected to the public praise and commented his supporters should help clean up his graffiti.[6]

Legal issues[edit]

On November 1, 2001, after receiving anonymous tip letters, police arrested 18-year-old South Side resident Michael Monack.[7] He was found with graffiti supplies.[7] In October 2002, Monack was sentenced to thousands of dollars in fines and community service in exchange for his guilty plea to criminal mischief and defiant trespass.[8][9] On March 2003, police arrested Monack again for continuing to engage in graffiti.[10] Monack had been spotted in the Armstrong Tunnel at 5AM with two juvenile delinquents. He attempted to escape apprehension and fled to the South Tenth Street Bridge where he was arrested. Monack was charged with criminal mischief, conspiracy, possessing an instrument of a crime and corruption of a minor for being the group's "ringleader."[10] His hearings were attended by neighborhood activists from areas targeted by his tagging where they expressed their extreme displeasure at his behavior.[11]

After graffiti[edit]

As of 2004, Monack had become a tattoo artist in Pittsburgh.[9] When asked by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about his opinion on the latest crop of the city's graffiti artists, he described them as "garbage."[9] Though, even years after ceasing his tagging, Mook's "infamy precedes him in many circles of the city."[9] By 2008, Monack was described as having been replaced in local urban folklore by a now deceased graffiti tagger Daniel Montano whose moniker is MFONE.[12]

" copycat "[edit]

Marcus Edward Gunther's graffiti tag on a building at the corner of NW 3rd Ave and NW Everett St in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood in Portland

Oregon Department of Transportation and the Portland Police Bureau began investigating after graffiti appeared on two sets of brand new electronic signs hanging over I-84 freeway in Portland before they have been commissioned. One of the sets was tagged with the moniker "Mook" on June 29th, 2018. The damage was nearly $25,000. On September 13th, 2018, a Portland man Marcus Edward Gunther was arrested. A security video footage from a different "MOOK" graffiti incident on September 6, 2018 at a storage facility linked Gunther to the moniker.[13][14] According to police, Gunther was lodged at the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (two counts), Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, and a probation violation.[15] Gunther also has pending matters from Clackamas County and Washington County. [16] The Columbian reports that Gunther's graffii tags have also been found in the nearby city of Vancouver, Washington.[17]

Like Monack, Gunther was a prolific graffiti vandal leaving over 100 documented tags around the city.[18]

Legal issues[edit]

On February 8th 2019, Gunther(Aliases: Marcus Johnson, Justin Allen)[19] was convicted of four counts of felony criminal mischief in the first degree and one count of misdemeanor criminal mischief in the second degree.[14][20]. He was sentenced to two years in prison and will be required to pay a restitution of about $30,000 and enroll in five years of post-release drug treatment for his heroin and methamphetamine habits. [18]

On February 11th 2019, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill announced:

30-year-old Marcus Gunther changed his plea and was sentenced for causing nearly $30,000 in damages by illegally spray-painting on private property."This is a sentence that holds Marcus Gunther accountable for his repeated acts of spraying graffiti without permission,” Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Nathan Vasquez, who prosecuted this case, said after sentencing. “It also provides Mr. Gunther an opportunity at treatment, which will benefit him and our entire community.” Gunther was arrested September 13, 2018 by members of the Portland Police Bureau. The change of plea and sentencing hearing occurred on February 8, 2019. Gunther was responsible for numerous acts of vandalism throughout Portland, Oregon. Primarily, he was spray-painting his "tag" on private property, which included Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) property.[21]

Gunther has many prior convictions including unlawful possession of heroin and DWI[22] in addition to these convictions

  • September 2010 Interfering with Public Transportation, misdemeanor [23]
  • October 2010, Contempt of Court, misdemeanor [24]
  • April 2011 Delivery of Heroin, felony [25]
  • June 2011 Theft in the Second Degree, misdemeanor [26]
  • January 2018 3 counts of Theft in the First Degree, felony [27]
  • July 2018 Theft in the Second Degree, misdemeanor [28]
  • February 2019 4 counts of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, 1 count of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree. [14][20]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McNulty, Timothy (October 5, 2001). "Police anger reaches new heights over Mook's daredevil graffiti". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on October 5, 2001.
  2. ^ "Marcus Gunther, VINELink". Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  3. ^ White, Bill (Aug 7, 2004). "Graffiti punks in high places spur curiosity". The Morning Call.
  4. ^ Andrews, Al (October 12, 2001). "The Mook Case Is Being Mishandled By Local Officials". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  5. ^ Silverman, Auora (November 7, 2001). ""Mook" Makes Us Happy". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  6. ^ Snedden, Kenneth (November 10, 2001). "Those Who Glorify "Mook" Should Help to Clean Up His Messes". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  7. ^ a b "Man Arrested in "Mook" Graffiti Spree". Beaver County Times. November 1, 2001.
  8. ^ Norman, Tony (March 13, 2003). "Painted as a menace, graffiti artist 'Mook' is held for trial". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  9. ^ a b c d Reilly, Richard Byrne (November 14, 2004). "Local Graffiti Legend Doesn't Miss Tagging". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  10. ^ a b "City police arrest noted graffiti writer 'Mook'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 3, 2003.
  11. ^ Norman, Tony (March 14, 2003). "Will jailing of graffiti artist open a big can of paint?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  12. ^ Norman, Tony (January 29, 2008). "Daniel Montano, artist on the run". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  13. ^ News, KATU. "Police arrest man suspected of tagging I-84 freeway signs". KATU. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  14. ^ a b c Staff, FOX 12. "DA: Man who 'tagged' ODOT property sentenced to 2 years in prison, must pay $30K restitution".
  15. ^ "Officers Arrest Tagger Thursday Afternoon (Photo)". Portland Police Public Information. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Booking Information". Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. Archived from the original on February 16, 2019.
  17. ^ "Portland police arrest man allegedly responsible for 'MOOK' graffiti tags". The Columbian. 14 September 2018.
  18. ^ a b Green, Aimee (11 February 2019). "Portland man who spray-painted I-84 signs gets 2 years in prison". The Oregonian. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  19. ^ SID 16808178. State of oregon Dept of Corr.
  20. ^ a b case 18CR55479. Oregon courts.
  21. ^ Multnomah County DA (2019-02-11). "Marcus Gunther receives prison & treatment sentence for causing $30,000 in damages by illegally spray-painting". Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  22. ^ News, Portland Tribune. "police graffiti tagger inflicted $24000 in property damage". Portland Tribune. Retrieved 2018-09-18.
  23. ^ case D104381M. Oregon courts.
  24. ^ case 100949866. Oregon courts.
  25. ^ case 110130324. Oregon courts.
  26. ^ case 110544932. Oregon courts.
  27. ^ case 16CR67938. Oregon courts.
  28. ^ case 17CR19287. Oregon courts.