Barbed wire? Coyote rollers? No easy answer to protect an Elysian Park memorial from vandals

After more than a week of scraping off tagging, repairing rust damage and applying new paint, the nearly $30,000 clean up and repair  of the Elysian Park memorial to Frank E Glass and Grace Simons, who spearheaded efforts to protect the park from unwanted development, was completed last Wednesday. The 28-foot high monument created by Echo Park artist Peter Shire, who was hired to repair the monument,  now shines with a new coat of black and vermillion enameled paint and freshly scrubbed aluminum and copper forms.  But  how long will the memorial remain in its relatively pristine and graffiti-free condition? Not very long, it turns out. Vandals had tagged the concrete columns at the base of the memorial as well as the construction crane used during the overhaul even before the project was completed.

Tagging on the concrete columns and chairs at the base of the memorial can easily be painted over. But trying to protect and clean the metal arcs, beams, and other pieces at the top of the sculpture is much more difficult challenge.  Over the years since the memorial was installed nearly 20 years ago above a picnic area off Academy Road, taggers have become increasingly aggressive, with the vandals having found ways to climb up the memorial to tag and scratch the steel, aluminum and copper pieces at the top of the monument.  Shire had been  hired once before, in the late 1990s, to repair the memorial but at that point there was “no graffiti further up on the sculpture,” said Donna Shire, the artist’s wife, in an email. “For the first 15 to 16 years, people only graffited the benches and the columns.”

While the memorial, which overlooks Dodger Stadium, can be seen from across much of the western portion of Elysian Park, its relatively remote location makes it hard to protect and keep an eye on.   Installing Some form of wires or  pigeon spikes have been ruled out as ways to keep vandals away from the upper section of the sculpture. Someone has suggested using coyote rollers but Donna Shire is not sure how that would work.

The Shires are at a loss as to what else to do to protect the memorial from vandalism.

“None of Peter’s other sculptures have been tagged, so this is a new issue, and we don’t know how it can be dealt with.”


  1. use taggers are target practice for the police?

  2. Cameras, cameras everywhere. Where they don’t see them. Where they can’t reach them.

  3. Public crucifixion. Make an example and the problem stops.

  4. One week of work, $30,000. That’s a rate of $1.5 million a year! Outrageous!

  5. I would have done the job with a Brillo pad for half the price, just saying.
    Secondly, taggers are idiots. If you have such a need to mark your existence, why not use the energy productively? You don’t create anything of value with tagging; all you do is ugly up a city with nothing more than a self absorbed statement of, “I was here,” and carve up someone else’s work in the process.
    A word of advice to all you “taggers”; I get it, you like to see your work all over the city because it makes you feel warm and fuzzy and special and popular to see your name everywhere. The problem is, your work sucks and no one knows who you are. Why don’t you learn how to make art of your own… that can one day be contracted into large scale installations in public spaces that can then be tagged up by time wasting jerkoffs like yourself?

  6. its very difficult to tag without thumbs. Catch these idiots and chop off their thumbs in front of a live TV audience. Guaranteed that tagging will go down tremendously

  7. I really can’t believe some of the comments here. I hate tagging as much as anyone, but you know, we live in the United States – a free country, a country with laws and values. We don’t stone adulterers, we don’t behead or crucify people for their religious beliefs, and we don’t chop off people’s thumbs for defacing public monuments. Even if you people are not serious in your comments (which I hope is the case), don’t you see that you are aligning yourself with the very values and practices that we here in the U.S. are so proud of fighting against? The very kind of behavior that we condemn and even supposedly go to war over? Think about what you are saying! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

    As far as cameras go, which is a much more reasonable response, I am curious how that would work. Because a camera captures an image of a kid tagging, do you really think that the police will then be able to identify him or her and go out and arrest the kid? Very unlikely. There are thousands of kids who tag in L.A, and they do it in front of cameras all the time. They don’t care, because the City does not have the resources or capacity to do anything about it, and they know that.

    • How about public flogging?

    • Wait we fought a war so that American’s would have the right to deface other peoples’ and/or public property? What the hell are you talking about? Obviously everyone posting is not serious about the bodily injury suggestions, so keep your “you should be ashamed” crap to yourself. The taggers are the ones who should be ashamed of themselves.

      • I’m not saying anyone has the right to tag. That’s obviously not my point. I’m saying that the punishment should fit the crime, which is the essence of a fair and balanced judicial system, which is the basis of the freedom we all talk about so much. In other countries, that’s not the case, and that’s what makes them bad places where none of us would ever want to live. That’s my point, not that tagging is somehow ok. Catch taggers and put them in jail, but crucifixion? Public flogging? Thumb removal? You may not be serious, but it’s disgusting and anti-American, nonetheless. If people want to live in that kind of political and social environment, they should move to Iraq – that’s the kind of justice they impose on wrongdoers there.

    • Remove the first paragraph and you have a decent comment.

  8. It’s disrespectful, unfortunate and all too typical that a piece of public art intended to beautify and draw attention to a singular LA location is soiled with spray paint. When we see this kind of thoughtlessness it’s only natural to be frustrated and even angry. Yes, I’m all for freedom of expression and not using corporal punishment to deter crime. I think most people who read this forum support this stance as well. What I’m not for is an attempt to wrap this issue in the American flag and try to pass it off as an example of what “we here in the U.S. are so proud of fighting against.” I agree, the LAPD doesn’t have the resources to to do much about random tagging. Tagging (largely not done in an “artistic” capacity) speaks to larger issues of gang activity, economic concerns and deeper issues of struggling youth identity in a largely unforgiving urban center that we all should be concerned about. I believe the remarks regarding public crucifixion and the cutting off of thumbs, posted however thoughtlessly, stem from the sense of helplessness we share in the face of the impossible task of curbing this type of desecration and all the garbage that comes with it. Unfortunately, the artist and whomever agrees to subsidize the construction and maintenance of a public art display should EXPECT it to be tagged unless it is in a highly visible and/or economically viable location.

  9. This newly cleaned sculpture has to be used like the fly trap it is! Get one motorcycle cop to babysit this thing for a week instead of handing out speeding tickets and we’ll hold half the taggers on the Eastside accountable for their actions. I’m tempted to climb up a tree or camp out there for a few days with a video camera and make 30 citizens arrests. Whatever the taggers tag on it while being watched they will be charged with along with any other same taggings the police have of pics around the city. Problem helped!

    • Taggers suck, yes.
      However we have had all sorts of accidents recently in the neighborhood caused by speeders, and 1 death.
      Im all for speeding tickets and busting taggers .
      Don’t speed , don’t tag .

  10. I notice they recently cleaned up the tags in the middle of the 110 freeway. There are a couple of tags by “ECM 2012” in hard to get to places. Why can’t the city figure out who these tagging crews are, catch them and make them spend every other weekend cleaning our streets and eliminating tags? If you had to clean it up every other weekend…you would not participate in tagging in the future. I keep hearing about arresting these vandals but never see what happens next.

  11. concerned citizen

    The problem really has more to do with gang activity than anything else, and I think alot of that has to do with the fact that so many parents don’t actually parent their kids in any meaningful way.

    Secondly – why on earth would anyone pay $30K to clean that monstrocity? They could have hired the taggers to simply spray paint it all one color!

  12. This artist has tagged Elysian Park first, with that ugly scribble of junk.

  13. Keep the parks clean of permanent man made follies, and the outrageous money spent to re hire the artist. And maybe the graffiti will disappear too….

    • I took a long walk in the park yesterday and noticed there was tagging on pretty much every surface including, I kid you not, a large cactus. It is a seriously frustrating feeling when the few places of natural beauty in your urban neighborhood are basically sh*t on on a daily basis by a small group of losers.

      I don’t advocate violence for real, but I can understand the initial jump to that. There is no reasoning with these kids – they just don’t care.

      • These kids are too rebellious and stupid. Let’s punish the parents for their kids crime as long as they are minors and see if that helps.

  14. VOR, starting pay in LAUSD is about 45k and the average teacher pay is 60k.

  15. conroy the great!

    i say protect Elysian Park from bad art! This heinous sculpture is the real crime here.

  16. Haha, yes, conroy the great! I agree tagging is the result of small minds, territoriality, gang communication, the human equivalent of dogs pissing to mark their boundaries,blah blah..but truly, such an uproar, over the ‘defacing’ of this eyesore. You can’t see the tagging from the distance, anyway, and you can’t get close enough to it for it to matter. Worse is tagging in the park,on rocks and trees..but it aint gonna end, so get over it. Pick your battles, people.
    (And I don’t wish to malign Mr. Shire’s good intentions, just his aesthetics).

  17. Why does Saraf attack Iraq with her words?

  18. Look at how some people dump trash around Elysian Park and the tagging makes more sense.
    Its done by trashy people with zero respect for nature or for others. EP offers some of the best views of Los Angeles but sadly, some people take it for granted.

    It took me a long time to appreciate that sculpture but it’s grown on me over time, as many unconventional works do. The lettering on the sculpture is incredible, a sort of explosive Art Deco / Modernist style.

    Seeing the memorial tagged was pretty sickening and it made me embarrassed to be from Los Angeles. It reminded me that we live amongst pigs.

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