Silver Lake’s Iguana Lady covered up – again

Last summer, The Eastsider reported on Sunset Junction mural – La Nuestra Reina de Las Iguanasthat was obscured after a supergraphic ad promoting  the singer/rapper M.I.A. was installed on the side of the Sunset Boulevard building. The mural of a wide-eyed Zapotec woman wearing a crown of iguanas was quickly restored to public view (top photo)  once the city began investigating whether that supergraphic was an illegal sign.  Earlier this week, however, a crew of workers whitewashed over the entire Sunset Boulevard artwork and it replaced with a two-story sign promoting Newcastle beer (bottom photo).

There is no record of a permit being pulled for a sign to be placed on the building, according to online information on the city’s Building & Safety Department website.

The mural near Sunset Boulevard and Sanborn Avenue was painted by artist Annie Sperling-Cesasno – who created several other murals in Silver Lake and Echo Park – based on a photograph of a Zapotec woman by Graciela Iturbide.

“The mural as it was needed some TLC,”said a passerby named Kat, who contacted The Eastsider after noticing the most recent cover up.  “But I hate billboards and ads just as much as the next person.”


  1. This seems to be a growing trend in public art. Especially with murals and street art. To me, some of these murals actually add to the flavor of the community(ies). I’d much prefer them to supergraphics and other advertising. We get enough of that, statistically over 5,000 ad messages per day. It’s too much.

  2. This is heartbreaking. A an artist, and a Silverlake resident, it is deplorable how this artists work can be so carelessly disregarded and ruined by commercial interests that have no respect or clue on the cultural signifigance original art like this has in the community. Given that there is no record of a permit being issued to whoever/whatever ad agecy bought the space and covered the piece I would be interested to find out more follow up on this and demand an explanation and that they provide a public apology to th artist and the community! Murals need to be PROTECTED!

  3. Both the owner of the company who put it up and the owner of the building should be arrested and fined for vandalism. The police arrest street artists. Corporate vandals should be treated the same. And if the city doesn’t stop this then citizens should do it themselves. Rip down the billboards and whitewash over them if necessary. And we should be writing to the companies whose advertisements are going up and boycott them publicly. Especially in a community like silverlake it should be easy to ask local bars to stop carrying Newcastle. If Newcastle gets 100 complaint letters perhaps they’ll realize their advertisement is having the opposite effect as was intended.

  4. they actually painted over it? that seems like it should rank more than a “take it down please” type of response. that should warrant a fine. let’s not forget that the owner of the building has a role in this as well; it’s not as if Newcastle Ale is driving around putting up giant signs in random spots. Isn’t the owner that “pro-silverlake” idiot who runs the sunset junction street fair?

    what a shame, that mural was here when I first moved here and always reminds me of long ago when I was a young man. sad to see it go.

  5. I really like the iguana lady and would think the owner of the building would as well…considering it one of the distictive “plusses” to thier property like some signature architectural detail would be. Still, this is private property and thus it is not vandalism for the owner to paint over it (though I thought super graphics were outlawed for the time being).

    We could lobby the city to enact some sort of permanent protective status or desigantion for murals to protect them but the opportunity cost of such legislation might be to then quash future murals as building owners might well be loathe to allow new murals if those murals then thus relenquish control over their properties going forward (acting like a virtual lein on their property….a similar reason why many businesses today don’t loan their empty parking capacity when not using it because it then gets grandfathered in and acts a sort of lein going forward).

    Like most things in life there is no black and white manichean answer here. To me there is a certain dynamism and fluididty to public murals and I kind of like that they change and evolve (like the buildings or walls themselves do) over time even to the point of being painted over. Sad though that in this case it was for advertising. I am as upset though with the taggers who defiled the mural as with the owner since though I think it unfortunate, at least it was his property and (rightly or wrongly) the tagging may have said to the less enlightened owner that if we as a community don’t care about this mural than why should he.

    Having said all that (and at risk of contradicting myself !) I will miss you iguana lady but celebrate your being there for so long. I also miss the old lady with the crocheted afghan on Temple – but if she were still there I wonder if I would still notice her like I always notice her “not being there” when I drive down Temple or the 101. In a way that is kind of cool too – she is like when a bright light burns a fleeting image on your eye and leaves a blank silluette of the image when you look elsewhere for a few minutes (Not going to happen with the Newcastle bottle though!).

  6. That same building has had a Captain Morgans Rum ad on the other side (viewable coming east on Sunset) forever too. Pretty sure it is still there. It was also up at the same time that they had to take the M.I.A. one. Guess the city doesn’t notice that one because it is sort of mural-esque (in a douchey Ed Hardy kind of way – with the Sailor Jerry graphics). Not as blatant as the M.I.A. one or this Newcastle one.

    I can’t believe they actually painted over La Nuestra Reina de Las Iguanas this time. Ugh. It is bad enough to bombard us with this most likely illegal advertising but now there is no turning back even if do they have to take it down. That mural was part of the landscape of the Junction. Sort of iconic to me in an odd sort of way. This saddens me.

  7. There actually is legislation in California – the California Artist’s Protection Act – and national – Visual Artist’s Rights Act – that is designed to protect against this sort of thing. They may or may not apply here, but it is worth looking into.

    Both acts are underused, but the gist is that they give artists the right to stop damage or defacement of their art. This can be done through either injunctions or fines.

    Most lawyers are unfamiliar with either piece of legislation, but if anyone is interested in pursuing, the look for referrals at California Lawyers for the Arts:


  8. Sorry, I meant California Art Preservation Act.

  9. Im not surprised that they did this, I mean the other side of the building has a captain morgan mural on it. Just let some graffiti artists up there and im sure they can repaint something alot cooler than what was there before and what is there now.

  10. They have painted over most of the cool murals in Echo Park as well. The yuppies moving in have complained to the city that they are eyesores. It’s reallly sad!

  11. Actually, Alijill – the “yuppies” – whatever that means – did not complain that they were an eyesore. The reason why many were painted over is because the taggers had ruined many of them. Just wanted to set the record straight so that we can solve the real problem.

  12. Let’s name some names.

    Who owns this building?

    Let’s contact Newcastle and tell them we wont buy their product until they restore the mural.

    This bullying has got to have the brakes put on it. The corporatists think they can do whatever they want, they’ve gone nuts on all levels – Wisconsin, Ohio, Football … the list is growing fast.

    We can roll over and take it meekly (which will certainly encourage them to keep acting this way), or let em know there are consequences. And then do it. Don’t buy their beer.

  13. We are annoyed- let’s see if we can do something. Here’s the email for their distributer in the US:
    [email protected]

    They would control US advertising. As someone who’s worked in advertising- it’s amazing what a few well worded complaints can do. Let’s see how many email complaints we can generate.

    Now who has info on the building owner- that can’t be a secret…

  14. A good place to start would be the Silver lake Neighborhood Council who can address this matter with City Council President Eric garcetti’s office. The Chair of the Urban Design & Preservation Committee is Elizabeth Bogart-Sharkov. She is a very efficient and pro-active Governing Boardmember – so everyone please email her at:

    [email protected]

  15. Oops. The advertising graphic on the other side of this building (also possibly illegal) is Sailor Jerry Rum, not Captain Morgan’s.

  16. We have to fight this. We can’t let Silver Lake or Sunset Junction become the overadvertised, ugly dump that Melrose Avenue turned into once its ‘hip’ (blech) cachet became appealing to corporate imperialism.
    Write Newcastle and Elizabeth Sharkov and DO NOT BUY or SERVE Newcastle beer until the mural is RESTORED, paid for by Newcastle.

  17. aren’t supergraphics illegal with the exception of certain areas that have been zoned for them? the last time they put up something in that location it was illegal, so it stands to reason this is as well. take it down and fine the company/landlord. while the newcastle ale idea isn’t a bad one, our beef is not with them. it is with a city council who enforces the rules selectively; and with a landlord who has already been told he cannot have a sign like that (and then turns right around and does it again).

  18. I am not a fan of corporate advertising in Silver Lake, and I live here. That said, I agree with one of the other commenters about many of our murals being ruined by graffiti. Graffiti makes the neighborhood look like shit even worse than this Newcastle ad. If we can’t figure out a way to protect murals from both graffiti and corporate interests, I’m not sure I’m that upset about this. At least the graffiti was painted over, too.

  19. They should put Red stripe or Bass ads instead of garbage brew.

  20. Todd, you see the before and after photo at the top of the page- are you trying to say that the graffiti in the lower left corner was so offensive to you that your glad a piece of neighborhood art that’s been here for decades was painted over with this dumb illegal ad?
    I call bullshit- you’re either simple or payed to post such ideas.

  21. What a shame. I agree, it’s the “taggers” that are killing municipal murals. I understand freedom of expression but one would think the legit street artist would want to distance themselves from “taggers” rather than defend their right to do so. Murals and tagging are not the same thing. One enhances, the other diminishes.

  22. Nah I’m not paid to post here, @hmm, just have an opinion. Still do – and it’s more than just about this lone mural. There are many murals that were once beautiful that are now tagged. My perspective is: these murals need to be protected from both taggers AND corporate interests, like I said in my original comment, but unfortunately, there is no system for doing so.

    I guess I am a pretty simple guy so I’ll take your derogatory statement as a compliment. I just want things to be beautiful. Graffiti isn’t.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *