As the City Council prepares to vote on an ordinance that would lift a ban on murals, the vandalism of a mural near the south end of Echo Park demonstrates the many challenges facing this form of public art.
Since it was created in 1989, the rich colors and imagery of “La Ofrenda” by Yreina Cervantez have brightened up the gray and gloomy underpass where First Street crosses over Glendale Boulevard. The 36-foot wide by 20-foot high mural, featuring a portrait of Dolores Huerta of the United Farmworkers Union, was a selected in January as a “Mural of The Week” by the Murals Conservancy of Los Angeles. But by August, “La Ofrenda” had been nearly obscured by numerous taggers, who have spray painted and scrawled their names and initials across much of the artwork.
According to “Wall of Empowerment: Chicana/o Indigenist Murals of California,” La Ofrenda helped establish Cervantes as a prominent L.A. muralist with its images of Huerta and the plight of immigrants and farm workers.
The new ordinance may lead to more murals being created, but how will they be protected?