By Erik Luna
Artist and mural advocates took advantage of a East Los Angeles street fair this weekend to gather signatures on a petition to protect the tile murals on the front of the former First Street Store. Plans by a charter school developer to demolish the building and place the murals in storage before they are installed in a new location on the site has met with opposition from artists who want the facade preserved and “A Story of Our Struggle” – a 1974 mural composed of 18 sections – to remain in place overlooking First Street.
David Botello and Johnny Gonzalez, the creators of the mural, attended a three-block party dubbed “Fiesta Primavera” in order to get signatures for their petition. “I want people too see that we are still here and that we don’t want to see our work be destroyed,” Botello said. The head of Pacific Charter School Development told The Eastsider last month that his firm would soon meet with the artists to discuss their plan but so far no one from the firm has reached out, said Gonzalez, who is promoting the mural and a second across the street on the Pan American Bank as potential magnets to draw tourists and more business to the area.
More than 400 signatures were gathered during the festival but ” we still need more awareness,” said Isabel Rojas-Williams with the Murals Conservancy of Los Angeles.
Erik Luna, a life-long resident of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, is the Editor-in-Chief of Campus News, the student newspaper of East Los Angeles College.