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.”