Echo Park artist Peter Shire was hired nearly twenty years ago to build a memorial in Elysian Park in honor of Frank E Glass and Grace Simons, who spearheaded efforts to protect the city’s second largest park from unwanted development. Last week, Shire returned to work on the 28-foot high monument – not as an artist but as a repairman. Assisted by a small crew, Shire began the job of restoring the metal and concrete memorial that has been damaged by years of taggers as well as rust. Donna Shire, the artist’s wife, said the nearly $30,000 project has proved more daunting than expected as they discovered that taggers and vandals had become more aggressive over the years. “The sculpture was a mess, she said.
Peter Shire was hired once before to clean up the memorial.when most of the tagging and vandalism limited to the lower portion of the memorial, located above a picnic area off Academy Road. This time around, the vandalism extended into the upper portions of the memorial. “The aluminum and copper were the most difficult to remove the graffiti from without damaging the material,” Donna Shire said in an email. “For the first 15 to 16 years, people only graffited the benches and the columns. In the last half dozen year, the graffiti milieu has become so overheated with its own romance, that every square inch of the upper portion had been covered.”
Shire and five workers are expected to finish the project, funded by private donors, by the end of this week.