The Desmembering of Mural Art

One foot in, one foot out

By Juanita Gonzalez
Published on LatinoLA: October 29, 2011

The Desmembering of Mural Art

In a radio interview on KPCC 89.3 aired October the 28th, L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar and artist Man One, could not answer straightforwardly on the status of Mural Art.

The PROHIBITION on mural art, a prohibition that has denied an entire generation of youth the freedom and right to express themselves on our community walls was once again, I repeat an entire generation deferred by our politicians and artists with vested interests in fusing mural art with commercial advertising.

Council Huizar reinforced what has been denied as no longer the model to be used, the simulacra "Portland Model" and its public art easement. Both skipped around a key point singled out by Patt Morrison, "Mural art has a civic value." Huizar immediately tagged the right of rich billboards owners and advertising companies to the first amendment to shelter away a clear and straight forward answer.

This implies that the mural question is conditioned by those who can afford millions of dollars to lobby our local politicians and lawyers to go against the wishes of most community members, who within a blink of an eye know what a mural is and what is an advertisement signage. Both councilmember Huizar and artist Man One constantly make reference to childhood experiences with murals. They both praise the influence murals have had in their lives yet both act as if nothing can be done, as if there is no other way of solving the ban on murals without the help of rich advertisement companies. This hopeless response does no justice to community mural artists. Once more it proves the lack of leadership located within our civic local institutions.

In the interview Man One states that he wants to move forward with the path of least resistance instead of sitting in meetings and going through revisions. If that is the case then the path of least resistance is the path that includes COMMUNITY mural artists in the dialogue and not a selected few.

Our community is geographically excluded from engaging in the "mural imagination process." Why aspire to paint a mural when you are exiled from doing so? The revision process that Man One speaks of is based on "one model" only, which attempts to eliminate the rights of property owners and the rights of community muralist. Man One implies that he is tired of sitting down in a room going over revisions. Well, there are hundreds of artists, muralist and community members tired of not having the privilege to participate in the creation of an ordinance best fit for Los Angeles.

Again, these mural workshops that Man One speaks of have for the most part have not included community muralists, neither has the effort been made. When speaking of the influence of Chicano murals of the seventies, Man One seem to entail of a bygone era of activism, social organization, and collectivism.

Murals are NOT obsolete nor are they dead, nor can you post date them. They are well and alive, breathing along with all those who walk or drive by them. It will be the Murals that will rally the spirit of the community to challenge the mislabels on mural art and the imposition by those who depart from a special vested interest.

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