Last time I was at the corner of Vanowen Street and Louise Avenue, the side wall of a clothing store was filled with a mural by Alfredo Diaz Flores, depicting a scene from the Spanish era at Mission San Juan Capistrano. On Sunday, I realized the mural has been painted over. Looks like a new owner has taken over the shops at the Lake Balboa corner.
The mural had been painted in 2004, sponsored by Bert and Jane Boeckmann, the owners of Galpin Ford and major Valley philanthropists. The credits on the mural included their thanks and a line about Flores: "A muralist with a vision for the San Fernando Valley."
I have no idea when the mural disappeared. The last time I noticed it was probably in 2011 or 2012. Last summer, two of Flores' grandchildren, Elijah Flores and Erika Tachet, were reported to be making a documentary on his murals found across the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles. At the time, his Chevrolet-themed mural on Van Nuys Boulevard near the long-gone General Motors assembly plant in Panorama City was being restored, according to Dennis McCarthy in the Daily News.
Flores died in 2008 at the age of 82, recognized in the LA mural community as a prolific and dedicated painter. From McCarthy's 2013 column:
He would set up his stool, spread out his rainbow pallet of colors, and get to work. Within days, walls that were covered in graffiti were now covered with scenes of patriotism, religion, and tradition.
Beautiful church missions, the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the chiseled, presidential faces on Mount Rushmore, and dozens of other historical milestones.
In the middle of the night, the last generation of taggers would return to see what he had done that day on their walls. When Flores arrived in the morning, both ends of his murals would be tagged again, but never the mural itself.
The taggers were sending their own message back. We’re not going to stop, old man, but we’re giving you a pass. Out of respect. Keep doing what you’re doing.