Monthly Mural Wrap: A Dozen Tags for May, 2013

The mural ordinance is slogging through City Hall, a victim of internal debate on how it can be enforced. In the middle of May, there were just a few things left before it could move forward. Now technicalities have been signed off by the City Attorney, according to city planner and keeper of the ordinance, Thomas Rothman. The mural ordinance, aka CF 11-0923, is waiting to for a calendar date with City Council. No date is set yet, "but soon" is the word from Rotham from within the Hall. When it's time, there will still be lobbying by muralists. And there may be concern by the city on how to protect those unsigned, permit-less murals created during the public art purgatory, even if they are grandfathered with vintage murals. If you lost track, CF 11-0923 was introduced June 1, 2011. The motion itself may qualify for some sort of vintage status.

In the meantime, May 2013 saw more murals coming, then going. Here's some news and notes we like to tag under Monthly Mural Wrap.

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Jessica in progress. LA Freewalls had Los Angeles local David Choe team with Spain's Aryz for a piece on Mateo and Seventh Street in the Arts District (Top Photo). Then there was the non-profit social cause art build out by artist Lydia Emily, assisted by Van Arno and Margaret Leahy, at Sixth and Ceres in Skid Row. That work supports Chime for Change, founded by Gucci, goal to help "put girls' and women's issues on the world's stage." The mural was made for a video that will debut during a London concert on June 1.

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In Pomona, the Daily Bulletin reported on the Ganesha High School art students who completed a 8-feet tall by 16-feet wide mural, which replaced another mural painted in the 1960s that, according to Vicki Tessier, visual and performing arts teacher, was "accidentally painted over." "The Cultures of Ganesha" is a multi-cultural mural that replaces the previous work that utilized a oft-used symbol from 1960s muralism: an Aztec calendar. More cultures are represented in the new mural to reflect the school's diversity, but an Aztec calendar did find its way into the piece. It made a debut at the Emerging Arts student exhibit at the dA Center for the Arts, and there are plans to find it a home on the campus.

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About the time when word first came down that there was some movement with the ordinance, R&B singer Chris Brown gave a demonstration project on why the ordinance recommends community outreach of some kind. His street art style mural that fronts his Hollywood Hills home has been called "too scary" for children, according to irate neighbors. Since it was called in, the city had to respond to it. Brown was cited the standard $376.32 fine for the un-permitted and excessive signage. He blasted his neighbors via Twitter.

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Richard Haro visits David Botello at the Maravilla Mural, May 2013 I Photo: Clare Haggarty, LA County Arts Commission

1975 source photo I Photo: Clare HaggartyChicano Art stalwarts Richard Haro and David Botello recently crossed brushes at "The Short Life of John Doe" (La Vida Breve de Alfonso Fulano) at the Centro Maravilla Service Center, which was being worked on by Botello, and his son Benjamin, that day. "Jose Luis (Joe) Gonzalez and I took on the job to clean off the graffiti and repaint the damaged areas," said Botello. "Both Joe and I were part of the original team that painted the mural in 1975. It was a true GOEZ collaborative mural." The late Robert Arenivar was the lead artist.

"The mural is a triptych showing the history of Maravilla, one of the first settlements in Los Angeles," writes Clare Haggarty, Civic Art Collections Manager for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. "In the first panel an older man and a young boy reflect on the early history of Maravilla. The central panel depicts a bustling early 20th scene on Brooklyn Avenue -- before it became Cesar E Chavez Ave." In the third panel, in the "present" of 1975, the older man and boy stare at their future with a look of surprise. The Centro Maravilla Service Center and mural are located at 4716 Cesar E Chavez Avenue, and funded by VELA and Los Angeles County.

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Orange County based Chicano muralist Emigdio Vasquez was honored with the Latino Arts Network Maestro Award May 25. The Keynote Speaker was O.C. Weekly's Gustavo Arellano, who shared his kudos for Vasquez, and linked to a 2009 story about Orange Police Department claiming that the work of Vasquez "promotes, glamorizes and inspires gang violence." The offending mural was "Tribute to the Chicano Working Class," a 1979 thesis project that helped earn Vasquez a master's degree in art from Cal State Fullerton.

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El Rescate I Photo © Ian Robertson-Salt 2013

The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles unveiled three newly completed restorations in Boyle Heights May 18: "Rescate" by John Zender Estrada at Cesar E. Chavez and Evergreen Avenues; "Flor de Canela" by Zender in Pico Gardens, and "Painting the Importance of Life" by Raul Gonzalez at Penrith and Whittier Boulevard.

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If a muralist finds a wall along Route 66 to paint on, they are likely to raise the curiosity of locals and international tourists. If that wall is on the site of the original McDonalds at 14th and E streets, it's a miracle the mural ever gets done. On two 100-foot walls of the McDonald's Museum, Phil Yeh is the city's storyteller by painting the people who passed through San Bernardino, reports the San Bernardino County Sun: "The Earp family; Gen. George Patton, who used San Bernardino's California Hotel as his headquarters while he trained soldiers in the desert ... Xerox inventor and San Bernardino High School grad Chester Carlson ... And of course, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, who made their first U.S. appearance in 1964 at the Swing (Auditorium)." The post also has video about the mural.

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Wrap Within a Wrap: At Artbound, Carren Jao had a closer look at MCLA's restoration of Frank Romero's "Going to the Olympics" ; Also at Artbound, Shana Nys Dambrot shares some time with Greg "CRAOLA" Simkins; West Is Eden's Ken McAlpine shares his thoughts on Ventura County artist Chris Martinez.

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Tail Whip by Gajin Fujita I Photo: Murals of La Jolla

"Tail Whip" by Silver Lake artist Gajin Fujita is the eleventh entry for Murals of La Jolla public art project, sponsored by the La Jolla Community Foundation. "I think public art really breaks (down) stereotypes and stigmas," said Fujita to La Jolla Light. "Even when people tell me something about graffiti, I don't right away think of something positive, but I think when it becomes a mural it breaks those boundaries." Fujita's parents were Japanese immigrants and his friends were members of East Los Angeles graffiti crews, writes UT San Diego. "Ultimately, his art embraces both."

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In his post-post-modernism satire that's a mench-like mash-up, Hanksy has been out promoting his first West Coast exhibition, which brings the street artist to the land of Tom Hanks and other media celebrity fodder. He spoke with LA Weekly and said: "My brain just goes like a train and comes up with a stupid play on words. It's a constant flow." Hanksy also revealed he was interviewed by Tom Hanks' daughter, Elizabeth, at The Awl.

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Justice Mural I Peoples Callejón de Colores

Tucked in an alley behind People's College of Law near McArthur Park, the "People's Justice Mural" is a work in progress by "day laborers, law students, along with a diverse network of labor, and immigration activists," according to Peoples Callejón de Colores. "Our goal was to inspire the community by transforming the alley into a work of art that reflects Pico Union's spirit and vibrancy and to highlight the contributions of immigrant workers."

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Lebbeus Woods is an Archetype I Photo by Helen Ly

Fence comes down I Photo by Jonathan JeraldIn the Arts District, SCI-Arc guides "Lebbeus Woods is an Archetype", an assembly by exhibition team members Hernan Diaz Alonso, Christoph A. Kumpusch, Dwayne Oyler, and Alexis Rochas. The large-scale public art installation is in the triangle parking lot and aims to "demonstrate the fearless nature with which the late visionary architect and draftsman created." The official unveiling is June 28. As the installation went up, there was also buzz when the fence of the parking lot was taken down. Besides allowing clear sight lines to the "four parallel steel frame 'swarms'" that uses the Arts District "as a backdrop for Woods's dystopian vision," taking the chain link fence away was also an unveiling. The triangle, which is next to Joel Bloom Square at East Third and Traction is a small eccentric parcel that local artists have conceptualized as public space.

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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