Earlier this year artists and residents gathered to celebrate the transformation of a worn out Highland Park bungalow into a giant canvas covered with colorful images of birds and volcanoes. The colorful images painted as part of an international art project reflected the Nicaraguan homeland of the Zuniga family, who lived in the 110-year-old Marmion Way house. Earlier this year, however, the Zuniga home – a familiar sight to passengers on the Metro Gold Line that passes only a few feet away – fell into foreclosure and has now been put up for sale by the bank for $189,000, according to Redfin. What is going to happen to the bird and volcano?
Kathy Gallegos of Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park is trying to find out if any buyer would be required to preserve the mural. The Casas Arte Home Intervention Project received a $10,000 grant to paint the house as part of a transnational project that has worked with international artists to paint house and building facades in the U.S. and Mexico.
“I passed by last week and was horrified to find that windows had been broken, graffiti was being scrawled and that the house has a lock,” said Gallegos. “I don’t want the house painted over. We’re going to ask the owners (now known as the bank) if we can repaint if they would please fix the windows and make sure derelicts don’t descend.”
But finding a buyer that wants a home next to the Gold Line Tracks and would be willing to keep the paintings could be a challenge. “The amazing painting on the building is a neighborhood landmark now after only one year and it sure would be a shame to see it replaced with high gloss grey paint with white trim and a horizontal wood fence,” said said neighborhood real estate agent Adam Bray-Ali with Zip Realty (Bray-Ali does not represent the seller).
Martha Benedict, a member of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council who photographed the home, said a new buyer won’t have a strong connection to the paintings.
“The sad part is the subjects of the murals were all related to the history of the family who lived in the house,” said Benedict, who snapped photos of the house during this March’s ceremony. “Their background was in Nicaragua. It won’t be meaningful to another owner. So sad.”