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‘Offensive’ Ava Gardner Mural in Koreatown Public School Will Be Painted Over

8:13 AM PST on December 12, 2018

L.A. Taco archive photo.

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] giant mural of Ava Gardner in Koreatown will be painted over because of its similarity to an offensive Japanese symbol from the second World War. The process will cost $20,000, according to officials at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, where the colorful mural is splashed outside the gym.

The decision to paint over the barely 2-year-old mural was “unilaterally decided” by L.A. Schools Superintendent Austin Beutner, according to the National Coalition Against Censorship, which strongly opposes the decision.

Protests lead by the Wilshire Community Coalition persuaded LAUSD to paint over the mural. Roberto Martinez, senior school district administrator, told the L.A. Times that the mural will be painted over when school is out for winter break.

L.A. Taco archive photo. May 2016.

Artist Beau Stanton, created the mural at the at as an homage to the Cocoanut Grove’s Hollywood history, but for some members of the community, the mural also brings a different side of history that is more painful. The rays remind protestors of Japanese atrocities against Koreans in World War II.

But NCAC says the mural was vetted two years ago before it was painted. “The surrounding rays are a common device found in many of artist Beau Stanton’s murals,” NCAC said in a statement. “We also understand that some community members — represented by the Wilshire Community Coalition — are offended by the rays, which they associate with the Japanese imperialist flag, and have called for the erasure of the entire mural.”

Wilshire Community Coalition members say that the rays beaming around Ava Gardner’s face are similar to the rising sun depicted on the imperial Japanese battle flag used during World War II.

Naval ensign of the Empire of Japan. Via Wiki Comons.

According to the Times, the Wilshire Community Coalition wrote a letter last month to the school district connecting the mural to the Japanese flag of "military aggression which resulted in (some) of the most horrendous and gruesome crimes against humanity in human history." 

The mural was part of massive campaign to get 30 artists to paint a series of murals throughout the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools during a one-week span in May of 2016. Besides Stanton’s, murals at the school were painted by Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf, David Flores, Yoskay Yamamoto, Jose Maradiaga-Andrade, and Paige Smith.

“While we appreciate LAUSD’s effort to distance itself from the hateful sentiments the mural’s rays may evoke for members of the WCC, removing the mural in response to their complaints sets a dangerous precedent of submission to public pressure in assessing art and allowing students’ access to diverse viewpoints and ideas,” NACA said.

RELATED: Crenshaw Black Panther Mural Defaced by Swastikas Is Already Fixed

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