Artists signing up supporters to protect East L.A. mural

Artists Johnny Gonzalez and David Botello gather signatures. Photo by Erik Luna

By Erik Luna

Artist and mural advocates took advantage of a East Los Angeles street fair this weekend to gather signatures on a petition to protect the tile murals on the front of the former First Street Store. Plans by a charter school developer to demolish the building and place the murals in storage before they are installed in a new location on the site has met with opposition from artists who want the facade preserved and   “A Story of Our Struggle” – a 1974 mural composed of 18 sections – to remain in place overlooking First Street.

David Botello and Johnny Gonzalez, the creators of the mural, attended a three-block party dubbed “Fiesta Primavera” in order to get signatures for their petition.  “I want people too see that we are still here and that we don’t want to see our work be destroyed,” Botello said. The head of  Pacific Charter School Development told The Eastsider last month that his firm would soon meet with the artists to discuss their plan but so far no one  from the firm has reached out,  said Gonzalez, who is promoting the mural and a second across the street on the Pan American Bank as potential magnets to draw tourists and more business to the area.

More than 400 signatures were gathered during the festival but ” we still need more awareness,” said Isabel Rojas-Williams with the Murals Conservancy of Los Angeles.

Erik Luna, a life-long resident of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, is the Editor-in-Chief of Campus News, the student newspaper of East Los Angeles College.


  1. Is there a link to an online petition somewhere so that more people can sign in support of preserving the Botello/Gonzalez work?

  2. sorry – but i never understood why art painted on a building automatically deserves special status. why does the rest of the world have to plan around something just because at one point someone was allowed to paint their work on a wall as opposed to a canvas?

    i do get that that some public art is amazing and DOES deserve to be protected, but surely that should be based on the quality of the work and it’s historical value. and maybe this particular mural qualifies. i’m not saying that it doesn’t. my point is simply that a mural shouldn’t automatically qualify for protection, especially when there are so many horrible ones.

  3. I would love to talk about this more on the Pocho Hour of Power on KPFK, can someone contact me at laloalcaraz at yahoo dot com?

  4. Where do I sign?

  5. since when is a non-existent stores mural more important than an elementary school? priorities people, priorities.

    • This tile mural has the whole history of the Mexican/Americans almost in ancient Codex format. I would compare their removal to banning books, as they are doing in Arizona. They have been up on the building since 1975, and will stand the test of time if left to continue teaching history and beautifying the community.

    • The Mural is not only an important treasure in Eastos Angeles- It represents the artistic and historical heritage of this community- a work of art which has further endowed the First Street Store itself as the the historical irriplacable landmark that it is- the Patrimony of East Los Angeles. One cannot just dismiss this fact and compare it to what is more important, a school or a mural? There is no doubt that the designated school will be built- (not an elementary school- I believe a private school) The question is why aren’t the wishes and the cultural, historical significance of this buiding being taken into the plans at this point? What better reason to have a cultural landmark become the focal point of a place for learning!!

  6. oops -sorry for the typos above– the word is -IRRIPLACEABLE

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