Los Angeles is often called the mural capital of the world — and no place is this truer than on the streets of Boyle Heights, where hundreds of walls at pharmacies, general stores, guitar shops and even churches have been transformed into urban artwork. The murals depict Mexican American history, advertise businesses and take the form of abstract art at the hands of graffiti taggers….
Using a little-known ordinance that allows the city to regulate murals that abut public property — including sidewalks — officials have notified some property owners that they must either modify or remove their murals….
Under the city program, the Cultural Affairs Department will find artists to create new murals and set up a system to maintain the artwork. Joseph Montalvo, a graffiti muralist participating in the program, says he supports the idea of engaging young taggers. But he worries that the city will put limits on what artists can and cannot do.
“For the last 15 years, the relationship between the store owner and the writer [muralist] has been there and there hasn’t been a need for government participation,” said Montalvo, 35, also known as Nuke. “What I’m afraid is they may want to suppress or oppress any content that in their eyes they think is inappropriate.”
Yeah, that seems like the whole point of the city’s program, doesn’t it? We’ve seen similar things happen elsewhere, notably Vancouver. Lots of small cities have ordinances requiring property owners to remove graffiti from their buildings or face fines. Smaller cities and towns require permits for any kind of decoration at all. Combine these property-value-minded campaigns to whitewash the city with the fearmongering panic-tantrums of Vallone Jr. and his dumb ilk and you’ve got a country where public space is severely policed.
Read the whole article here. Image at top: Detail from “Undiscovered America” by Joseph “NUKE” Montalvo, taken from you-are-here.com.