Photo: by Rich Puchalsky. The original chicken mural at Delta/Echo Park Avenue; artist Aaron Donovan touches it up after the mural was tagged.
It's not the new mural itself so much as what the artist said about it that ruffled the feathers of Marsha Perloff, who is co-founder and former president of the Echo Park Historical Society as well as founder and current director of the Echo Park Animal Alliance.
The offending snippet, by artist Robert Meinhardt concerning the mural he painted with his wife, Billie Stone, and a third, unidentified artist:
“I wanted to paint a cockfight because that is what this corner is famous for, historically. My wife and I love this neighborhood and wanted to show respect for its history in these times of changes and resentment. I realized certain people might have a problem with animal cruelty issues, but I really don't give and shit, and those are the type of people I like to offend anyway."
And Marsha's response that before Meinhardt's likely frame of reference...
...Chicken Corner was a typically depressed little stretch where the storefronts housed failing businesses or were being used for storage. It also had a really rough bar called Suku-Suku where shootings (and 2 murders) occurred, but the actual ... lot where the condos are going up now, were where the Macias family kept an ongoing variety of barnyard animals – hence its nickname Chicken Corner. To my knowledge ... patriarch of the family grew up on a farm in Mexico and loved these animals. But if in fact, this [artist] is making up his own history of the neighborhood as I suspect (I mean, the lot is widely visible -– where exactly was the supposed illegal cock-fighting taking place?), to make a lurid claim such as this, degrades the family AND the community’s history.
I see a couple of different historical threads working here. Meinhardt seems to think the corner is famous for being the location of Aaron Donovan's mural, which sort of maybe included cockfighting imagery. And Marsha knows that there used to be actual chickens at Chicken Corner -- hence the name and Donovan's mural. I have to ask why Meinhardt would like to offend people who are interested in securing the humane treatment of animals. But I do think his mural is a vast improvement over the marginally conceived wall painting that preceded it, in the interim between Chango's ripping away of Donovan's work and our new mural (photo coming soon!). As for Aaron Donovan's chickens, they're gone: pieces of that wall are scattered all over the neighborhood, kept by residents who wanted a keepsake or scrap. A few of them are displayed inside of Chango.
Factoid: The original Chicken Corner mural was titled Moron.