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Old Posted Jan 24, 2011, 5:28 PM
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gsjansen gsjansen is offline
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when christine sterling made it a crusade mission to save the avila adobe, and to turn olvera street into a tourist destination, she wanted to dress up one of the 2nd floor story, drab brick walls that was visible from the street while walking north. the building she wanted to make attractive with a mural is the building that is center in the photograph

Source: LAPL

a fresco mural to be painted by mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros was commisioned in 1932 by F.K. Ferenz, director of the Plaza Art Center gallery, which was housed in the Italian Hall, the building who's 2nd story facade was to be painted, but the ultimate approval came from Olvera Street's main booster and renovator, Christine Sterling.

The theme of the painting, which became the fresco's name was America Tropical, suggested by Sterling herself.

In 1931, just before Siqueiros' arrival in Los Angeles, Depression-era anti-immigrant sentiment boiled over and the "repatriation" of hundreds of thousands of Mexican laborers (and in many cases U.S. citizens of Mexican descent) began locally with a raid at the Old Plaza.

During his stay in Los Angeles, Siqueiros, a lifelong revolutionary, absorbed the political moment. his fresco was not a flowery tribute to sunny los angeles, complete with palm trees colorful birds, lus foliage, and smiling happy mexicans..........instead The central visual and symbolic focus of the piece is of an Indian peon, representing oppression by U.S. imperialism, crucified on a double cross capped by an American eagle. A Mayan pyramid in the background is overrun by vegetation, while an armed Peruvian peasant and a Mexican campesino (farmer) sit on a wall in the upper right corner, ready to defend themselves against further american imperialist atrocities.

Source: Los Angeles Times

when the mural was unveiled, the opening ceremony audience which included sterling and the political and business elites of Los angeles, gasped in horror at Siqueiros image of american imperialism.

Sterling deemed the mural anti-American an proceeded to have the portion of the mural that was most visible from olivera street white washed over.

Source: Los Angeles Times

I don't know if they closed off the stairs which allowed viewing the mural

Source: LAPL

within 6 months, the entire fresco was painted over.

in 2008, the getty museum began restoration of the mural, and it is expected to be open with a visitors center and viewing area specially constructed in the next two years.

an architectural rendering of the visitors center and viewing gallery

Source: Art For A Change

Restoration work of the mural under way

Source: Southern California Public Radio

the full mural america tropical


the true irony in all of this, Siqueiros ends up the winner, and Sterling the loser, because of the covering of white paint, the original piece has been protected and survived where it would have otherwise weathered and deteriorated into nothingness. The actions to censor the mural have ultimately resulted in it's preservation for generations to come.

Last edited by gsjansen; Jan 24, 2011 at 6:28 PM.
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