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The Betrayal of Mural Art in Los Angeles

Content regulation: The hidden agenda

By Juanita Gonzalez
Published on LatinoLA: October 23, 2011


The Betrayal of Mural Art in Los Angeles


A report on Los Angeles City Council report Fine Art Murals/Private Property (establishing a process which would permit the installation of fine arts murals on private property) dated November 7, 2008, page 3 reads (see Council File 08-0515):

"Thus there is authority under the First Amendment suggesting that when the government is acting as a patron of art, or is displaying art in publicly own places there is greater (but not unfettered) leeway to distinguish based on content then when the government is acting in a regulatory capacity."

OK, what does this mean in terms of mural art?

Well, if the Portland Model, an imported blueprint assembled in Portland, to regulate its murals becomes the OFFICIAL MODEL, artists here in Los Angeles run all the risk of no longer having the freedom to paint in conjunction with the community and the youth murals that reflect their voice, their heroes (this includes hombres y mujeres), their glories, their concerns and hopes.

All content (mural content) under the patronage of the government will have GREATER LEEWAY TO DISTINGUISH BASED ON CONTENT. Need I be more clear, or must I repeat myself one more time? When the government is acting in a regulatory capacity, meaning as a non-patron, it can be sued if it attempts to infringe or determine what the content should be in a mural. If this was the case, then the government (the City of Los Angeles) would be violating the First Amendment. Again, must I repeat myself? What part is it that those non-muralists who are meeting in secret so-called workshops headed by the Department of Planning do not understand?

The above description is but one part of one paragraph out of 84 pages. So, it's best for City Hall to attempt to own the wall to become the patron of those once privately-owned walls so as to skip around the First Amendment. Again my community, must I repeat myself again? It is of most urgency to STOP this ordinance from becoming law.

I take pride as I walk around my East Los Angeles community in seeing murals painted by all ... young, old but young at heart like myself, and artists of all ages. Here is the Council File number 08-0515 so that we can better inform ourselves. This will help us uncover the hidden agenda by city officials and non-profit organizations like the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) acting as private owners of our private property. As we can see, a 50-word paragraph like the one quoted above can change the entire mural landscape of Los Angeles.

Please log on to File 08-0515 (City Hall website) to see when the next Council meeting will take place, which is very soon. By that time I am sure and have no doubt that we, us, all, will have all or enough information to stand up for ourselves as individuals and/or as a community against the right to paint without censorship. Let's not betray our artists, they might no longer be able to ECHO our VOICE nor to express themselves.

Related stories on LatinoLA.com

Murals Belong to the People, Not City Hall

Editor's Note: Comment posted by La Flor at approximately 1:00 pm PT, 10.24.11, deleted by request of the author of the comment.

About Juanita Gonzalez:
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