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Monday, September 1, 2014

Echo Park coffeehouse makeover begins with a mural whitewash

Fighting Cock mural. Photo from Google Maps

Mural after whitewashing

The new owners of Echo Park’s Chango Coffee are preparing for a week-long renovation that will transform the interior and menu of the corner coffee house. But it’s a recent change to the outside of the cafe that has attracted the attention of neighbors and customers after a mural depicting a pair of fighting cocks was whitewashed earlier this week. The new co-owners of Chango – Jenna Turner of Susina Bakery & Cafe and Marc Gallucci of Fix Coffee in Elysian Heights – commissioned a street artist known as Axis to paint a mural to replace the fighting cocks.  Turner said the final design of the new, Art Nouveau inspired mural still has yet to be completed but it will wrap around the exterior of the brick storefront and extend into a wall inside the cafe. “It’s going to be a gorgeous piece of art,” Turner said.

But, mindful of  the outcry over the proposed cover up of another Echo Park mural, Turner said there are plans to create some references to the fighting cock mural and Chicken Corner, which is the nickname for the intersection of Echo Park and Delta avenues.  The former owners of Chango also faced criticism when they destroyed a previous mural – yes, it also had a chicken theme – when they installed a new cafe window in the same wall.

Turner, who took over the cafe at the beginning of the year,  is trying to walk a fine line between upgrading the food and interior of the scruffy but highly visible Echo Park coffee house without going too upscale. After a planned, week-long closure that will begin on Sunday afternoon,  Chango is scheduled to reopen on Saturday, March 24 with all new interior – including more seating and electrical outlets – and a new menu,with expanded breakfast meals, sandwiches and vegetarian and vegan options.  The name will remain Chango, at least for the time being.

“I don’t want it to be a high-end coffee house – I want it to be a neighborhood coffee house,” Jenna said.

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42 comments

  1. Just don’t let the fix people near the coffee, please! They make the worst iced americanos. Way too much water, not enough caffeine.

  2. A little shocked about the mural but the new owners need to put their stamp on the place. Anything is an improvement to that establishment…bad coffee and bad attitudes every time! Please stay open a little later too.

    • Stay open later? To get even more of the bad coffee and bad attitudes?

      • That is an excellent point AVN!

      • The food here is horrible — and such small portions!

        • Echo Park Deserves Its Own Starbucks !
          Another Super Market ( Fresh and Easy, Superior ? ), and a Pollo Loco wouldn`t Hurt Iether !
          Chango`s ? Geeses Jam !

          • I moved here in ’85 when Changos was a ruff corner bar that had the 5-0 cruising by every night..and tho I don’t spend $3+ for a cuppa joe anywhere, it is a questionable improvement. Rumor has it the old sadly missed Pioneer market, (the blink and you missed it Sav-mor space) is to be a Fresh & Sleazy, soon. And the late Pescado Mojado space may become a Senor Fish…? Wouldnt mind that at all!
            Oh well. I’m still squinting past the ChickenCornerCondo monstrosities..change is all thats ever assured in life…orale, Echoparque!

  3. It’s the owners prerogative, of course, to paint the walls of their business however they wish. But, jeez, hasn’t everyone had their share of this so-called “street art?” The style has long atrophied into this little boy’s club of ‘commodify your dissent’ posturing, a la mr.obey. The neighborhood has more to offer than this ‘urban/street’ style, which seems to pander to the worst teenage ‘element.’ Gots to keep it real, bra! Sk8 hrd!

    • Way to go sthelena! I ‘got’ you on this “commodify your dissent” stuff. I don’t know what the hell it means, but I know that you mean to blame the hipsters. Right? I mean, your either against the hipsters, or you’re with them. Am I right people?

      And by “Sk8 hrd” I know that you mean ‘keep things the way they were, not the way they are’. Right?

      • No one was blaming the so-called hipsters, just one particular, and doggedly popular, style of Design that I find to be played out and unoriginal. “Commodify your Dissent” is a book by Thomas Frank, written in 1997– the era of Henry Rollins as Details magazine’s Man of the Year (and the era, moreover, that ‘street art’ was perhaps even interesting). The basic gist of the book revolves around Frank’s analysis of the ‘subversive consumer’ and ‘cultural capitalism.’ That aside, I’m with SL-er and the others who think the building should be left alone, unadorned. Make it new, Ron Don.

  4. here we go again

  5. I prefer the white as it lets the historic building show off what’s left of its architectural finery. For me old buildings tend to be beautiful on their own and adding murals is like adding after-market changes to a fine automobile – just looks like a cheap inappropriate addition (why don’t we get more murals on the numerous dingbat apartments where they would be added value I wonder?) Happily for this building the bulk of it seems to have made it through the tough times with a lot of its integrity in tact and at some point could be a completely refurbished gem.

  6. Looks nicer left as-is.

  7. NEW WHITE CANVAS!!!!!!!!! A tagging crew or gansters dream. May survive the weekend due to rain.

    • Finally, a true brother/sister. You’re tittle reeks of ‘long time resident’. Let’s occupy this “white canvas” you speak about. It is powerful imagery and worth fighting for, especially before someone comes and changes it! But, why does it always have to be a white guy? Can’t we make it black or brown? I mean come on, it’s 2012. A little racy with the racial linguistics, even though as a long time resident I know you are chill and not ‘down’ with discrimination.

  8. Ugh Atwater…I am asking the new management to keep the place open later. Why would I ask the old management if I don’t like their customer service? Wow!

    • Because, you know that things are better before than they are now silly! So you ask the OLD management – get it? Asking the old management is a blow to hipsters and gentrification! Got to think outside the bubble and be prepared to act outside the box.

      Let’s occupy the new management. Who’s with me?

  9. there is no reason murals deserve any kind of protected status, especially since most of them are such bad art to begin with.

  10. Oh please. this is not the original Chicken corner mural that was there for years anyway. the original Chango owners took that down while putting in the window.this statement ” mindful of the outcry over the proposed cover up of another Echo Park mural” is an unfounded comment as this mural is only about 4 years old. it’s not some epic old time Echo Park mural that has been part of the landscape of our community. I’m so done with this kind of comments.

  11. they should get rid of that Hideous Mural on Berkley and Glendale on Alfredo’s market.

  12. Its ok for Chango to whitewash a mural because they own the business but not Sr. Fish…..mindboggling!

  13. Chango, like the big brother in Detroit Rock City?

  14. Too funny, here is a relevant post from another story from a few days ago on a similar issue. These new owners might take heed

    Big JT
    4 days, 6 hrs ago
    Hi folks.
    It would be wise if the muralist investigated her options under the California Art Preservation Act and the federal Visual Artist’s Rights Act. Both protect works of public art from actions such as the one taken above. This article gives some good background on how VARA (at least) operates:

    http://www.iptoday.com/articles/2008-9-brutocao.asp

    In certain cases, the acts require that 90-day notice be given to the artist before removal of the piece begins. From what the article above says, I am going to assume that such notice was not given. That being the case, this artist should definitely make contact with a lawyer through Calif0rnia Lawyers for the Arts to determine what her rights and remedies are:

    http://www.calawyersforthearts.org/

    VARA and CAPA are sorely under-used in cases such as these.

    • agreed! if only more artists had lawyers…

    • new rule:

      before any artist gets a dime for having their (crappy) mural painted over – they should be required to get 100 people (along with every idiot politician that voted to give them “moral rights” plus their entire legal team) to agree to have a reproduction of the mural permanently painted on their living room wall.

      if it’s really such a magnificent gift to the world, they should all be thrilled to look at it every day just like we have to.

      and by the way – have you checked out the new mural artist’s website? there’s a link in the first paragraph.

  15. I appreciate the case to be made for historical preservation, but does every mural have to be preserved? There are some awful murals out there.

  16. we should brownwash this whitewash and paint the true colores de echo parque

  17. Are the art critic (as opposed to artist) hipsters comparing the traditional neighborhood murals to jailhouse tattoos? Is this just part of the “cleansing” of Echo Park and the surrounding areas. The neighborhood has a wonderful political and ethnic history which should not be obliterated.

  18. Look – anything to conceal the fact that this place was in the dreaded Train video (ground zero for ‘Echo Park is now ruined’ meme). Last week, for the first time in about six years, I was greeted by a warm, wavy haired brunette girl behind the counter instead of the undead venom-soaked Devendra Banhardt bitchmen behind the counter.
    Chango’s new owners should consider more considered and regular art openings of LOCAL artists only. Like The Onyx on Vermont (and beside the Vista), the classic deadbeat club/art gallery, that got this whole east side thing crackin’.
    Change is GOOD!

  19. Fedora wearing property flippers who leech the character and very life blood out of a neighborhood, then abandon it for the next score should not be permitted to be the arbiters of change. Those of us who were here before and will be here afterwards should exert our power and influence to keep change from becoming rape. They will take you if you if you allow it to happen.

  20. Just so glad Chango is gone. As someone said, bad coffee, bad (lame) attitudes. Out with them!

  21. Well, I’ve lived in Echo Park for almost 3000 years. So I think I win.

  22. The Magic Gas sign still exists. It has been mounted on the front of the station building.

  23. Lemme Guess some non Latino gorgeous art? It’s going to get tagged. The last mural was not because it said “Echo Park”

  24. I am not going to miss Chango, bad attitude, the people who work there looks like they never take a bath, the mural was ugly, they should restore the wall to it original brick color, I don’t thing that mural was part of our community, every time I saw the mural, just remind me the dirty, smelly empty lot.
    Good

  25. I painted that mural that the new owners went over. I did it because I was asked to and paid by the Chango owners at the time. The “mural” on that wall before I did the game cocks was one of the most awful things I’ve ever seen. It was a “graffiti style” character and gold spikes that was so terrible that real graffiti writers and gang members would tag over it all the time.
    One night Dame MSK came through and did a fill in over the entire mural and with a can of black wrote “Fuck you” and “Fuck all of you” on the planter boxes and chairs etc. The building manager Sergio claims he saw it going down from his balcony but Dame had a look out with a gun so he didn’t do anything. They demanded something new be painted over it that wouldn’t suffer the same fate.
    I painted fighting cocks because that is what the locals I had talked to told me “Chicken Corner” was famous for. I did a banner that said “Echo Park” as tribute to the neighborhood gang and so no one would paint over the mural. It worked. The only people who ever painted on it were painters for the Train music video “hey, soul sister” which won VH1s video of the year and completely embarrassed all the people truly involved with life at that corner.
    People were pissed that I painted game cocks and “Didn’t know the real history” and then people were pissed when the new owners painted over it. The owners had to go state their case in front of a local government meeting for “destroying a local landmark”. They left a very concerned message on my wives voicemail. She assured them it was okay, and we didn’t mind.
    I hope that added some insight to this conversation.

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