Some background on a mural that is history -- i.e., whitewashed. I spoke with Gary Leonard, the photographer who owns the one-story building that hosted Workers Mural, and he told me a few details about the painting and its demise. Painted in 1975 by Art Zarate, the mural had been commissioned by a city-run program, and its existence was supposed to be protected by law.
"It was there for 33 years," Leonard said to me, "and then in one afternoon [it disappeared]." What happened was: the former tenant of one of the two art studios in the building, Richard Barnes (aka Richard Leigh), moved in and asked Leonard if he could paint over Zarate's mural. Leonard told him no, not under any circumstances. The tenant did it anyway. Leonard drove past the Echo Park Avenue building just as the tenant was finishing the whitewash. Several other people witnessed the act, too. Barnes/Leigh said the mural was oppressive.
On Monday, I called Barnes/Leigh to ask him why he had painted over the mural. He has not called back or emailed.
Many people are upset about the whitewash, including the some of the homies, who Leonard said got into it with Barnes/Leigh, who called the police. "What he did to the locals," Leonard said, "It's disrespectful."
Click here to see the original mural before parts of it and then all of it were painted over. the sign above the doorway dates to the time when it was Peter Shire's studio, before he moved to a much larger studio in the 1800 block of Echo Park Avenue.