Calle de la Eternidad.PhotographerHelenLy.jpg

'Eternal' Mural on Broadway Meets Its Makers

Photo courtesy Patty Trans/flickrIf downtowners see the mural "Calle de la Eternidad" being removed late Monday night, there will be no need to worry. If all goes well, the landmark mural will stay eternal on Broadway.

Friday was the formal introduction of the project to remove and restore the mural, an agreement led by Councilmember José Huizar, teaming up his "Bringing Back Broadway" initiative with developer and architect David L. Gray and SPARC, who led the authorship and production of Johanna Poethig's "Calle de la Eternidad" (Eternity Street) in 1992.

Developer Gray will begin restoring features in the 1911 building by removing the 1950s façade, which at the time was a common way for Broadway's buildings to update their look to compete with a fleeing retail market.

Originally known as the Zobel Building (351-353 Broadway), the original façade was built with windows overlooking Broadway, reports District 14. Similar to Clifton's Cafeteria, another Broadway building undergoing restoration, the 1950s "modern" façade, which once had the name of the Department Store "Graysons," will be removed to expose the windows the original underlying façade.

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At the conference, Councilmember José Huizar noted Gray "for reaching out to my office" and "setting a high bar for others in the City" for organizations like SPARC to enable mural restoration.

In 1992 and 1993, "Calle de la Eternidad" mural was painted onto the '50s "modern" façade, and has since become a landmark mural. As covered here, Judy Baca and SPARC digitally scanned the mural and will reinstall it on the building's south facing wall. In an advancement of the renaissance "marouflage" method of applying work to a wall, the digital file will then be restored by Poethig, and then put on a canvas, retouched again by hand, before being relocated to the building.

Joanne Poethig I Photo: Vanessa Coto / viewfromaloft "Painting this mural on Broadway in the early 1990s was an amazing experience as I swung in the scaffolding above this vibrant street in Downtown Los Angeles," said Poethig, who is thankful the mural will be restored once funding is secured. " 'Calle de la Eternidad' is one of the most important murals of my over three-decade career."

Additional reporting with Vanessa Coto and María Margarita López. Top photo of "Calle de la Eternidad" by Helen Ly / viewfromaloft

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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That is not preservation of the mural. That is called a SUPERGRAPHIC. That is disgusting. Why not hire some actual muralists to actually repaint the mural? If SPARC or the muralist are too old to get up there and repaint, why not hire some young, talented and hungry(literally) artists to do the work. That is such as scam. I can't believe the way the writer of this article dances around the fact that a digital print is not a mural. I guess SPARC told you it was so you believed them?


The sentiments expressed in the previous commentary are the same as those held by many muralists in Los Angeles. Interestingly, the example of Joanna Poethig’s mural actually lends more support to the idea that this technique will be used to “reproduce” murals not restore them; to create original images that can be reprinted for multiple installations, more like signage than art. Not the point that I imagine Mr. Fuentes intended. It is also not a high-tech form of “marouflage”.

I personally don’t share the fear that printed images will ever be preferred or considered a fine art medium. But what this approach to mural production or “restoration” (digital replacement) may accomplish is to make it very difficult for young artists to compete for commissions or restorations projects. Individual and groups who have the right equipment can “print” and install an image on a wall faster than an artist can prepare and paint the same size image. The disincentive for property owners to embrace the slower more labor intensive (possibility more costly) mural process is obvious.

“Calle de la Eternidad” is also an example of something else that is unique to public art: there is usually an expiration date. Public art by virtue of its exposure to the elements, vandalism, urban renewal, and even its own visual content can become the reason it is lost. If a mural can be saved, of course, that is wonderful. But, if it cannot it be saved, that is not necessarily a defeat. The urban fabric of every city renews itself though many means. The loss, restoration, or creation of public art is only one way it accomplished its transformation.