New 'murals' stolen before Caltrans can unveil them

Caltrans had planned to show off four new pieces of artwork along Los Angeles freeways this morning, two of them replicas of murals from the 1984 Olympics era that had been defaced by taggers. But overnight, two of the pieces were stolen. Ed Fuentes considers the news at KCET's blog and wonders if they really should be called murals after all. The pieces are temporary "mobile murals," smaller and more portable than the originals.

One of the missing murals is a panel from "I Know Who I Am," showing Mickey Rourke posed in a boxing stance. It is a smaller reproduction of the 1990 work by Ruben Soto that once graced an Echo Park underpass along the 2 Freeway. Soto called the theft a "bummer." "It's about beautifying the neighborhood," he said.

"Tony Curtis" is safe. The reproduction of the mural by George Sportelli was first painted in 1994 on a Hollywood Boulevard overpass, and once visible traveling north on the 101, is intact, but about a third smaller than its original.

Two works from the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival are returning as mini-murals are near their original locations. What is missing for now is Frank Romero's "Going to the Olympics." John Wehrle's "Galileo, Jupiter and Apollo" has been remounted.

Old-school purists regard a mural as only a mural when painted on a wall. Anything that is printed material on a substrate, then adhered to a wall, moves from the tradition of muralism.

If you have been playing attention to our mural coverage, the City of LA's sign ordinances partly agree with the old guard. If any of these new pieces were installed a few steps away, in private property within the city, it would be considered to be closer to a banner wrap than a mural. Despite the content, it would be deemed an illegal sign.

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