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Save The Murals

2:42 PM PST on March 5, 2008


    TACO has just received the following important message about the Dep't of Cultural Affairs and the legality of murals ON PRIVATE PROPERTY in Los Angeles. Please read the facts, and the call to action to come to the meeting tomorrow:

    Important Meeting at the Department of Cultural Affairs
    1:30 PM Thursday, March 6, 2008

    I would like to invite you to come to the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), Cultural Affairs Commission (CAC) meeting this Thursday, March 6 at 1:30 PM. The meeting is at the DCA offices located at 201 N. Figueroa Street, Suite 1400 Los Angeles, CA 90012. Phone (213) 202-5500.

    I am asking you to come and to make your feeling heard as to the state of fine art murals in Los Angeles. Right now fine art murals on private property within the City of Los Angeles have been outlawed. The Cultural Affairs Department used to have jurisdiction over murals on public as well as private property. They lost the jurisdiction over murals on private property during the summer of 2007. At first I was unsure what this would mean. It would seem that if DCA does not have jurisdiction, then no City agency has jurisdiction over fine art murals. I found that the City of LA does not believe this to be true.

    We painted an 18' x 45' mural on Cesar Chavez and Breed Street in December of 2007. In late January an inspector from the City of LA, Department of Building and Safety cited the building owner for an "unapproved mural/sign" After the owner received this "Order to Comply" from the City along with the threat of a misdemeanor, a hefty fine and possible jail time, the owner painted the mural out without consulting me.

    This mural was painted by Lead Artist- Asylm and by Artists Jaime "Vyal" Reyes and Alex Rodriguez. Go to this link to see pictures of this mural:

    We had applied for a permit for the mural in July of 2007. We had permission from the building owner and had even applied for a permit with DCA in July of 2007. At the last minute our permit application was pulled by the city because DCA said they no longer had jurisdiction over fine art murals on private property.

    I have heard stories similar to ours from artists all over Los Angeles. Particularly this problem has been an issue for artists painting with spray paint. As you can see from the photos of our mural that was painted out, that it was a beautiful mural that is not a sign and does not look like graffiti. There is no lettering at all, no commercial message or product, no logos and not even a web site address.

    This treatment is typical of the City of Los Angeles when it comes to showing support and respect for the muralists that paint the walls of this city. Los Angeles used to proudly call itself the "mural capital of the world." Although we still have more non-sanctioned murals than any other city in the world, we have lost the title to Philadelphia for sanctioned murals. This is because of the unfair and unconstitutional treatment of mural work in this city by various city agencies. Many times artists that I have worked with have told me stories of how they got permission from a tenant and building owner for a mural on a small market or store. They have worked with the community and painted a beautiful mural at their own expense. Often these murals are replacing ugly vandalism marks and gang markings. Yet the city comes around and harasses the tenants and scares them into thinking they need to remove the mural or they will be fined.

    This is un-American and un-constitutional. All this while the billboard companies run wild in the city putting up large vinyl graphics on the sides of buildings, illegal billboards all over town, digital billboards and oversized commercial posters. Yet out of fear of the large corporations the only response from the city has been to further regulate, punish and censor artwork by this city's true artists and avant-garde visionaries.

    No more. Come make your voice heard. The Cultural Affairs Department is potentially a sympathetic agency to artists' rights. They are the agency that is supposed to defend the rights of artists. Come tell them that we need their help. Tell them that the current regulations need to be changed to accommodate real artists and not just crass commercial messages.

    This issue of murals on private property is number 6 on the agenda for this meeting. The agenda can be found at his link:

    Come to the meeting and fill out a speaker card to get your three minutes to speak. Hear what the DCA is trying to do about the problem. E-mail or call me for more information. There is relatively expensive parking available in the lot underneath the building at 201 N. Figueroa. Otherwise, get there early to look for other more affordable lots in the area.

    Stash Maleski
    ICU Art - In Creative Unity

    Venice Art Walls

    Project Manager
    Boyle Heights Mural Pilot Program

    (310) 309-7756 cell

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