Silver Lake restaurant owners defend removing part of the Elliott Smith mural

Photo by Eastsider reader

SILVER LAKE — Bar Angeles owners defend themselves in LA Weekly, explaining why they marred the cherished Elliott Smith mural. Apparently, there’s been “some inevitable backlash,” but “most reactions have been positive,” says Wade McElroy, co-owner of Bar Angeles.

The mural stumbled into cultural significance back in 2000, when it served as the background for Elliott Smith in the cover photo of his album Figure 8. Smith died three years later, and the wall became a sort of memorial site for Smith’s fans.

Fortunately, the part of the mural that appeared on Smith’s album is still there. But the other half was largely displaced by a thick window and glass blocks earlier this year. The section that was removed was placed inside but the change has still upset many of Smith’s fans.

According to the Weekly, the curvy design was painted 30 years ago for the Solutions stereo shop, which is still next door.

Bar Angeles is located in the 4300 block of Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake.

Our door is open at 5:30, come on in✌?️???cool pic by @jbrylah

A post shared by Bar Angeles (@barangelesla) on

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  1. A mural is not a religious shrine. So the property owners could never modify the structure because it appeared on an album cover? Stupid.

    • I live in the neighborhood and I think it’s awesome. The part of the wall they removed from the exterior is mounted on the inside of the back wall. It’s really cool!

    • Clever person with the clever name for the appropriate post!!

    • Wrong. This mural, this site, is indeed considered a shrine for millions of Elliott Smith fans worldwide. Thousands of people are photographed at this wall every year. Would you sandblast the crosswalk at Abbey Road? Bar Angeles will never get a dime from me, nor from anyone else who understands the meaning of this place. I hope your greed consumes you, Wade McElroy.

      • Elliot Smith has millions of fans? I doubt it, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. To put this in perspective, if it was so important to all his passionate fans, why didn’t someone raise the money to buy the building and turn it into an Elliot Smith museum? Millions of fans x $5/each = $10-$15 million easy! Oh wait, it’s because no one really cares enough to actually do something about the situation unless doing something merely entails writing a passive-aggressive post on some no-name blog (sorry Eastsider, I had to say it for emphasis ;-).

        • Looks like we found the bar owner guys, he’s trying to save face. Nice try there. And who’s to say the millions of fans aren’t planning on doing something? You’re not really in the loop, so you may be unaware of what’s going on. But I think a lot of fans would rather see the wall gone completely then profited on by a generic no name bar.

          • Hardly. I’m just sick of a bunch of “critics” like yourself – people who risk nothing, sacrifice nothing, and create nothing – always critiquing, criticizing and trying to stop others from pursuing their full potential to create (and profit from their creating) simply because you don’t have the same interests and goals in life. If you want to do something about the situation, DO IT. Start a gofundme page and raise money to buy the building or remove and relocate the mural and just maybe in the process, you will actually get a clue as to what’s involved to do something for yourself rather than just complain about the efforts of others.

          • Pacr – I’m not just a complainer, I’m a creator as well, not that I need to prove myself to you. If you can’t handle basic criticism then you clearly aren’t well equipped to handle this kind of business either. Welcome to the real world where people all have their own opinions and they don’t have to like you or agree with you.

          • TheRealMonty – Oh, I’m sure you are. You probably have a guitar or maybe even do a little wood working on occasion, but based on your vigorous personal crusade to lambaste this business owner, it’s glaringly obvious that you are not pursuing your creative endeavor as a means to support yourself financially – you don’t have ANYTHING at risk. With regard to “real world” where people “don’t have to like you or agree with you,” believe me, I am very aware of this simple fact. And to mirror your statement, I don’t have to like you or your uniformed, juvenile opinion either…just more divisive noise in a world with too much already.

          • Pacr – We’re both anonymously commenting on a blog post on the internet, so you can get off your high horse. You don’t know anything about me, but I will tell you this. Highly intelligent and creative people are passionate. And one of the things I am passionate about is Elliott Smith. And that will never change, and I and others will NEVER approve of what this business did. I risk things all the time, however this wasn’t just a risk, it was an insult, a calculated risk they decided to take in order to make money. Shall we keep going back and forth? If you have enough time to respond to these comments I assume you’re not out there doing big things either.

          • TheRealMonty – I respect your passion for Elliot Smith as an artist and can certainly understand why this particular situation would be upsetting. If I cared about the situation as much as you do, I would direct that anger and passion toward creating a solution to the problem – perhaps starting a GoFundMe page to raise money to relocate the mural, open a direct dialog with the new owners and express my concerns with other passionate fans, etc. In fact, it appears that you have a receptive audience right here on The Eastsider to promote such a cause. I guess I personally believe in taking action in life rather than waiting for someone else to solve my problems because other people tend to disappoint in situations like this – All the best to you!

      • And that’s neat and everything, but who cares? It belongs to them, they still retained the art inside as has been stated repeatedly, and his fans will have to get over themselves.

      • For the record, yes, I would have no problem with sandblasting the crosswalk at Abbey Road. It was a pop culture moment that happened, and can be let go.

      • yes, because the beatles and elliott smith are totally the same thing! like, pretty much identical in terms of impact and influence. i don’t see a difference between the beatles and elliott smith, do you?

    • Better sell it while you can..

    • They could have done it in a tasteful way while preserving the mural on the outside, I don’t see any reason that they had to hack it out just to replace it with those ugly glass blocks that serve no function at all. The souless generic bar on the inside is an affront of ES and a cheap way to try and profit off his name.

    • I was actually in talks with the property owners to lease part of the building before the restaurant group behind Bar Angeles. The owners are awesome people and very committed and dedicated to the neighborhood and bringing in a good mix of people to bring life to the block- since they’ve been part of the community for so long themselves.

      When we were discussing what we could do, they were adamant that the mural had to be part of the building in some way due to the history. We’re a boutique and needed more window space, so it ultimately couldn’t work out for us to keep that much of the mural intact and we had to move on as much as we loved everyone involved and would have loved to be in that space. In my opinion, the designers behind Bar Angeles did an awesome job with respect to the building owners, the fans of the mural and local residents who are excited about having more walkable dining options.

      • Thanks for this. I understand people being upset about it but the Bar Angeles folks/building owner really did a good job of maintaining/saving as much of the mural as possible, including the most important spot where Smith was framed up on the album. It was going to be something someday, it’s best that it’s something that’s making use of and playing off of what made the spot iconic.

        I have a little more understanding for people who think that the name “Bar Angeles” is a bit exploitative, but given that everyone is inevitably going to refer to it as “that Elliott Smith bar,” what are you realistically supposed to do?

        I haven’t been yet, but I live in the neighborhood, and I’m glad that we have a new business there AND that we get to keep most of the mural intact.

    • elliott smiths music means more than religion to a lot of people. myself included

  2. The “removed part” of the mural is actually the back wall of the restaurant now, and was transferred clearly very carefully. They didn’t destroy it, just moved part of it – which is a pretty nice compromise in my opinion..

  3. Just in case you didn’t catch the two previous comments written by two distinctly different individuals, “Mike S.” and “Ezra tsezra” who clearly have no affiliation with Bar Angeles aside from being really proud neighbors, apparently. Well, I think you two strangers should meet up and discuss your collective love for architecture and design. May I suggest a great new spot I think you’ll both like, it’s called Bar Angeles and here’s some unbiased yelp reviews:

    “The part of the wall they removed from the exterior is mounted on the inside of the back wall. It’s really cool,” and ” the “removed part” of the mural is actually the back wall of the restaurant now, and was transferred clearly very carefully. They didn’t destroy it, just moved part of it – which is a pretty nice compromise in my opinion.”

    • Holy damn. Are they actually using paid online shills on Yelp and here to try and save face? This is a new low, even by greedy Silver Lake standards.

  4. michael o'brien

    sorry, folks, destruction of that mural was ILLEGAL, and the artist can sue (and will win) for damages. “I have a Rembrandt, and it’s too large for the living room, so I cut it in half and put half in the bathroom”–everyone would be outraged. 8 years ago, the Kent Twitchell mural of El Ruscha in DTLA was similarly vandalized without the artist’s knowledge. Kent sued, and won $1.1 mil. http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/nine-years-after-being-destroyed-twitchell-s-ed-ruscha-monument/article_c1e69a5c-0fd3-11e5-ae8f-0b8fed567176.html

  5. My two cents are that they shouldn’t have removed the part of the mural, because it destroys the balance of the stripe in the painting. A window isn’t really necessary, in my opinion, for a bar and grille that’s only open at night. Thinking of 1642 as an establishment that does fine without any windows.

  6. First world problems.

  7. The part of the mural Smith stands in front of for “Figure Eight” is still completely intact. Calm down everyone.

  8. Meh. I gave up caring when Chango shredded the chicken mural. I wouldn’t step foot in any of these boring pseudo hipster scum joints. And I never will.

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