Music promotion covers up Silver Lake mural*

The mural of a wide-eyed woman wearing a crown of iguanas has overlooked Sunset Junction for more than a decade. But recently a Silver Lake resident named Toby noticed that La Nuestra Reina de Las Iguanas – which was commissioned by the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance and Council District 13 – has been almost completely covered by a supergraphic ad promoting a new album for the singer M.I.A. A single iguana is now seen poking out from under the new ad. The mural near Sunset Boulevard and Sanborn Avenue was painted by artist Annie Sperling-Cesasno – who created several other murals in Silver Lake and Echo Park – based on a photograph of a Zapotec woman by Graciela Iturbide. How did this neighborhood mural (bottom photo) come to be wrapped in an ad, asks Toby:

I have two questions:
1. Is this another illegal billboard blighting our neighborhood?
2. Is there any way to protect these important pieces of street art/neighborhood history?”

The Eastsider is checking with the city’s Planning Department to find out if this super graphic ad is permitted.

* The Building & Safety Department is investigating the supergraphic at the request of Councilman Eric Garcetti. He issued this statement on Tuesday:

“Illegal billboards and supergraphics can destroy a neighborhood’s cityscape, not only for local residents but for thousands of visitors and drivers every day. We have contacted the Department of Building and Safety, which has opened an investigation. City officials will conduct an in-person inspection of the supergraphic today.”

Bottom  photo by Rich Puchalsky Grassroots Connection


  1. An outrage. Disgusting.

  2. Not cool. Not cool at all. You can tear down the MIA poster easily, but will the paste they use harm the mural?

  3. Private Property

    Last I checked this was private property. The owner of the building can do as he chooses withing the ordinaces of the city. Please stop the faux outrage on this one.

  4. I thought there was a moritorium on super graghics in the city. If so, the owner of the building is in violation. Does anyone know who he owner of this building is?

  5. Lame ad. Lame comeback from the MIA flak above.

  6. There is a ban on super graghics in the City of Los Angeles. So the owner of this building could and should be prosecuted. The City Attorney’s Office should be notified. Does anyone know who the owner is? What is the exact address?

  7. Somehow I’m way less outraged over this than the controversial supergraphics in Hollywood.

    Maybe because this sign is smaller than the ad billboards that are…everywhere on Sunset?
    Maybe because I actually like MIA?
    Maybe because the mural underneath is not that great looking?

    Maybe all of the above.

  8. I’m not sure that it matters that it is private property.

    I remember there was a similar mural in Echo Park (near Chicken Corner) that was painted over, by mistake, I think. And, the landlord got into some trouble. The City commissions these murals and pays for them for the benefit of the community — and the property owner. Instead of having unsightly graffiti (or MIA posters), the community gets a mural. Its like an easement that the City (community) gets over the mural space. I don’t think it is up to the landlord to destroy. I imagine that since the City paid for it, they would need City permission to destroy it.

  9. If it is private property then the building owner will have to A) remove the super graphic and B) pay the city a fine.

    The irony is City Council President Garcetti has been pro-active on removing super graphics in his district – and here is one popping up right under his nose. I hope he gets onit.

  10. I guess MIA wasn’t satisfied with just burning her bridges with Switch and Diplo, she’s gotta burn them with Echo Park too, both hipster and regular EP folk alike.
    Ironic considering she’s such a champion of minorities rights.

    And ‘Private Property’ you can stick that ordinance up your private, it’s a Supergraphic and as such there’s a moratorium on them.
    Last thing anybody wants around here is for EP to start looking like Hollywood.

  11. ..but holy shit, this is bad bad bad.

    Though, I dont think in any way the owner had anything to do with this. A small chance they got some money for it, but I doubt it highly. There was a massive street campaign for this album, though still not enough to have kept HARD from shutting down the day prior.

    Im sure removing it will damage the mural, definitely disappointing.

  12. @Leopold

    What ever happened with MIA and Diplo anyway? I heard there was some kind of falling out but I don’t know the deets.

  13. It doesn’t escape me that the person chosen to identifying themselves as “Private Property” would try to diminutively and simplistically apply a laissez-faire attitude and negate a sense of responsibility for public space and municipal law.
    If this super graphic is indeed illegal the city should actively pursue legal action just as they do against graffiti vandals. Meaning that the “owner” should be fined and cited for authorizing an illegal graphic. Los Angeles sign ordinance is part of a zoning code, and the maximum fine for violations is $100/day. Theres also a public nuisance provision in the municipal code that provides for fines as much as $2,500/day.

  14. gotta agree about the faux outrage.
    if it is illegal, they’ll fine the owner + it will come down. if not, it will probably come down w/in few weeks of release. it looks hung not pasted, so probably no damage done and yet the tagging just below graphic is still gonna be there…and isn’t that the mural artist’s responsibility to remove???

  15. Hey ‘Chris L’
    Great article on the MIA / Diplo fallout:

    Sounds like she was dialing it in and caving to her new big label advisors (which I reckon are probably also behind that unfortunate supergraphics placement).

    As far as the ‘boombala’ and ‘private property’ supergraphic shills are concerned, not sure what is so ‘faux’ about the outrage. They covered up a historic mural, a piece of (now rapidly disappearing) neighborhood culture, with an advertisement. Do you honestly expect people NOT to get pissed?

  16. hardly a supergraphic shill here.
    i called garcetti’s office about the digital billboard on sl blvd and applauded when the billboards came down from ep ave.
    and let me clarify my point – i think a temporary graphic draped over an already damaged mural is hardly worth the histrionic indignation when i’ve seen multiple neighborhood murals damaged and ultimately destroyed over the years by tagging. additionally, i find it far more polluting on the visual landscape to have entire skyscrapers downtown sided with soda ads or 14 floors in hollywood advertising a new blockbuster. IMHO there are far more egregious examples to be outraged about…

  17. Well that’s good to hear!
    But in terms of this billboard, is it as bad as the ones downtown, nope.
    Is it LAs (or even EPs) biggest problem, certainly not.
    That said the above post was about the one particular, local, mural. Hence not veering into somewhat tangent subjects. Believe me I bitched my fair share about both tagging and supergraphics as a whole.
    To be a bit clearer about the why people might be indignant however, it’s more about what this banner represents; more signs of careless commercial encroachment and the fact that it wasn’t restricted to the usual billboards but instead audaciously covered a piece of local culture. Sure there’s a tag in the corner that people unfortunately haven’t noticed, but believe you me that if somebody tagged over the face we’d be posting PO’d comments here on an Eastsider article about that too.

  18. BTW when I said Echo Park/EP, what I meant was Silverlake… Damn my EP pride.

  19. I hope there was a permit for the mural…

  20. There has been a big advertisement on the other side of that building (facing west) for months. It isn’t quite as obvious as it looks like Sailor Jerry tattoo art and is painted on the building but it is actually an advertisement for Sailor Jerry Rum with a big Sailor Jerry Rum bottle and the website for Sailor Jerry Rum is written on there as well.

    So now there are two on that building.

    Perhaps the owner of the building tested the waters with that less obvious one to no repercussions and then took the leap on this one. I guarantee you they are getting paid for these.

    I drove by there today while running errands and, for what it’s worth, it looks like this MIA one is just hung over the existing mural and likely has not damaged what is beneath it.

    Just went to get a coffee and a smaller version of this same MIA ad is wheatpasted on the mosaic trash receptacle in front of Cafe Tropical so they are doing some illegal sniping for this campaign in Silver Lake as well.

  21. Anon — Of course there was a permit for the mural!!! The City paid for it. It was commissioned by CD 13, under the former City Council Office. Not only was it permitted, it was put up by the City.

  22. CI
    That’s an interesting twist. I wonder how the city wil handle this.
    Often, unpermitted murals become part of the fabric of a community. When they are damaged, there could be no recourse.

  23. I really like the murals. They are some of the things that make me want to live here. I hope that people let this heritage stand.

  24. This is a non-issue. People will complain about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING! SHUT UP!

  25. speaking of murals in echo park, what’s the story with the extreme close-up faces under the bridge where sunset crosses over glendale?

  26. It is an illegal sign most likely and we have reported it to the Department of Building and Safety. Stay tuned for action. Hope everyone can get back to work now 🙂

    In service,


  27. I find the faux outrage comical. While I would prefer to see the original mural, you all should be much more troubled/outraged by the prominent and unslightly graffiti that has permanently damaged the lower portions of this mural. Get your priorities straight!

  28. 1. Super Graphics are vinyl banners or other printed materials adhered to a building They are are illegal.

    2. If you want to take action, the guy to call is:
    Donald Wong
    City of LA Dept Bldg Inspection

    3. This sign is a vinyl banner draped bolted onto the building. Thankfully, it won’t damage the mural underneath.

    4. MIA is a ‘political anarchist’ who lives in a two-home estate in Brentwood. Her record company should move this banner to her neighborhood.

  29. Thank you for the info realPolitico, and couldn’t agree with you more completely about MIA. Move the billboard to Brentwood.

    Very cool of Garcetti to respond to this. Caring about the community and not wanting it to be defaced or turned into one big advertisement (like Hollywood) is an important neighborhood issue. If we didn’t care we’d live somewhere else. And of course we’d all like to see the graffiti gone, too — if we could stop that through legal channels — but the taggers aren’t so easy to put a cease and desist order on. In fact two guys got shot this year trying to stop taggers marking up an auto body shop and a garage door. Very sad.

  30. Yeah, just another sign signifying that Silver Lake has passed from the cool to the commercial. Where did all the cool people go, and who are these faux people walking around like they are creating rather than destroying one of LA’s best neighborhoods? I think we should tear it down!

  31. Yeah, thanks, Mr. Garcetti. I’m sure the sign will disappear with your notifiying the city. Just like all the other illegal billboards in silverlake, the illegal body shops, the illegal… you get the idea I’m sure. And hey, eventually MIA’s record will come and go, probably about the time the sign does. And i’ll be sure to thank you, or will you remind me?

  32. Because LA had so many murals being painted over without so much as a by your leave to the artist, it passed a law about what kind of notification there has to be when a mural is about to be destroyed. I don’t know the text of the law, but it would be interesting to know if it might apply in this case. It’s clearly not a simple “private property” when you’re dealing with a City-funded and installed mural and dealing with a form of advertising that’s generally illegal.

  33. MIA lives in Brentwood so I doubt she will get to see the ad on her daily drive to and from work….

  34. Get over it! That eyesore of a wall is back and MIA is gone. I would rather have MIA than Medusa and her Iguanas. I miss MIA frankly, now I have to see that ugly faded mural everyday again.

    P.S. Supergraphic? It’s a postage stamp. Wish she covered the whole eyesore, umm, I mean mural.

  35. It was an ugly mural any ways. Plus it’s not like M.I.A. Was going around putting her posters around the city. Those are promoters.

  36. I hear the mural is no longer M.I.A.

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