About two months ago Meg Nordstrom of Silver Lake began clipping kids drawings to the fence in front of her Micheltorena Street bungalow and invited neighbors to contribute drawings to the open-air gallery. The idea of the Art Wall was to encourage “positive expression” and bring neighbors together, said Nordstrom, a 28-year-old art teacher who is now raising a two-year-old son. The Art Wall near Micheltorena Street Elementary seemed to be working, attracting new drawings and contributions of supplies, from crayons to printer paper, that were free to anyone who needed them. “The neighbors started meeting each other,” said Nordstrom. “It was really nice.”
Then, on Monday morning, things were not so nice.
Nordstrom’s husband, Carl, discovered that about 50 drawings that had hung from wires attached to the fence had been removed and replaced by pornographic images covered with gang tattoos. The art supplies, including water color kits, were gone, too. “People are trying to make positive changes in their community” and then they are “met with resistance like this,” said Carl Nordstrom, a 31-year-old physician.
Meg Nordstrom said she had initially expected some of the drawings to be stolen or vandalized. In fact, she had been taking down the Art Wall drawings in the evenings for safe keeping but eventually just left them on permanent display since there had been no problems until this weekend. The couple called the police to report the vandalism. The officers said there was little they could do but try to patrol the street more frequently.
The Nordstroms, meanwhile, have not given up on the Art Wall. On Monday afternoon, the couple put up a sign informing the neighbors of what had happened and once again asked for drawings to be added to fill the now empty Art Wall. It was sign they would not give in to the vandals. “We won’t let that type of action stand here,” said Carl Nordstrom.