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Next Up: 'Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo' Mural to be Restored

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In a determined and continued burst to revamp murals commissioned for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles announced today restoration on "Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo" has begun.

Scaffolding has been up since mid-June, and even then you could see two small patches exposing the mural under the gray paint.

Completed by 1984 by John Wehrle, one of ten murals commissioned during the Olympics Arts Festival, the restoration will be led by Willie Herrón III, who is working with Vincent Moreno, Caltrans District 7 Vandalism Coordinator.

MCLA is organizing the cleaning and restoration, funded in part by Wells Fargo, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), Ralph M. Parson Foundation, and private donors, in what conservancy calls it "an unprecedented agreement" with Caltrans.

Graffiti removal begins Monday, July 15, 2013, and original muralist John Wehrle will be called on to consult "if needed," said MCLA.

Caltrans taking a close look at John Wehrle's mural in December, 2009 I Photo by Ed Fuentes/viewfromloft
Caltrans taking a close look at John Wehrle's mural in December, 2009 I Photo by Ed Fuentes/viewfromloft

The original mural was 207 feet long and up to 24 1/2 feet high. It was painted over by Caltrans due to constant graffiti, and was briefly marked with a banner 9 1/2 feet tall and 75 feet wide.

"Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo" was restored in 2005 and again in 2007, and at one time there were talks for a third restoration through Caltrans, said the artist in 2010.

But it was the high-powered paint guns that did it in. "The difficulty was the [large sprayed] paint," said Wehrle to me in a previous interview, and who provided Caltrans banner project with reference photos. "It was a BBQ grill paint, deep setting stuff."

Herron has his work cut out for him, but so far had brought back murals along the 101 Freeway to a new vibrancy, including "L.A. Freeway Kids" and "Going to the Olympics."

MCLA hopes to have as many Los Angeles Olympic era murals restored by 2014, the 30th anniversary of the game.

Because of the works along the 101 Freeway, that could also be the anniversary that murals helped put Los Angeles on the art map.

"Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo" waiting for its restoration. June 14, 2013. I Photo by Helen Ly / viewfromaloft.

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