Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Los Angeles: About the Mural Conservancy

Farewell to Rosie the Riveter," a detail from the 1950s section of The Great Wall of Los Angeles mural, 1983. Mural: © Judith F. Baca and The Social and Public Art Resource Center 

If there is something that characterizes the city of Los Angeles is the beautiful murals it has on its walls. In some buildings, the murals are not exactly what we expect for a piece of art, but anyway, even being advertising, they are really nice and impressive.
I am sorry to say, that since the last weeks I have been going to Los Angeles, usually taking the 110 freeway, and the murals that we could usually see on the freeway walls, next to Moneo’s cathedral, are completely covered by graffiti. Go ahead, and you’ll see whatever mural, on the freeways, on the buildings, in containers, in construction enclosures, also covered by graffiti, up to the freeway signs.
This excerpt below is taken from, in the section “about mural conservancy”. They state that the program of murals conservancy is sustained by donations and tax deducible dues. Is the current problem an issue with budgets? Or taxes? The bad economy we had since 2006? Or a control problem?
I wonder what’s going on with the so hard Los Angeles police. Mike Davis tells the story about the young men who were killed by the police while attempting to write on L.A. walls, some years ago. We do not need such brutal extremes, but maybe some streets control. These graffiti take hours to be completed, and whoever is doing so, is absolutely exposed to the public, in the most visited areas of Downtown L.A.
Is it that nobody is compromising to protect those murals? Do gangs have such an impunity?
I apologize I don’t have perfect pictures, imagine it is very difficult to take them at speed.

Graffiti in downtown LA. Picture by Myriam B. Mahiques

Graffiti in downtown LA. Picture by Myriam B. Mahiques

Murals. What art form is more visible to the public eye? At the same time, what art form is there that is more exposed to the elements, more vulnerable to vandalism?

Until the 1960s, public murals in Los Angeles were few and far between, isolated instances of commemoration or appreciation. During the sixties and seventies, young artists began to look at the early-century Mexican mural movement. Such notables as David Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and Jose Orozco helped inspire a new generation of Angeleno muralists such as Kent Twitchell, Terry Schoonhoven, Judith Baca, Frank Romero, Alonzo Davis, East Los Streetscapers and many others. Today upwards of a thousand murals have been produced in L.A., with new ones appearing on a regular basis. It has been widely acknowledged that we are one of the world's mural capitals. Murals that serve as significant area landmarks have been created by both famous and anonymous artists.
All of this creative activity has served the public and enhanced the image of Los Angeles at little cost to the public. But it has also presented future generations with the problem of deterioration and vandalism. MCLA's mission is to deal with this problem NOW in order to prevent it from becoming extensive and embarassing--and expensive--to the City; and to give this art its deserved due as a significant part of our cultural legacy.
L.A. is often singled out as the Mural Capital of the World because of the number, variety and quality of murals here. Not to mention the Southern California weather, which lets muralists create pretty much year round. As new murals come into existence every year, you can count on this site being in a state of ongoing dynamic development no matter how seemingly complete it gets. We put the emphasis on murals located outdoors and in public locations (those located in private homes or other restriced access locations are excluded unless they are of unusally special note).
Just use your mouse to launch yourself into any of the sections listed and you can learn about and see the murals hundreds of thousands of Angelinos view on there daily commutes, the muralists who make them, and MCLA itself.
The programs of the Mural Conservancy are made possible by the generous tax-deducible dues and donations of our members, the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, the California Arts Council, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and the Brody Fund of the California Community Foundation” .

Mural of Mercado La Paloma. Photo by Myriam B. Mahiques

Enjoy more murals, from the book Wall Art:

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