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City Says Downtown Mural Must Go

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Not too long after city officials told a pair of Silver Lake residents that Phil Lumbang's popular "Hello!" mural must come down, a different mural in downtown's official Gallery Row neighborhood is targeted for removal today. Los Angeles artist Emmeric James Konrad's mural at the Down and Out Bar on Spring Street prompted a complaint, which alerted city officials to the illegal mural.

Although the mural was apparently commissioned by the building owner, it violates city rules. "Complicated matters, murals are currently stuck in the same rules as commercial signs," explains Ed Fuentes at blogdowntown. "Graphics that cover store windows are forbidden by those rules, which have been the subject of numerous lawsuits between the city and the signage industry in recent years."

Some people are said to be gathering to protest. "Los Angeles should not get away with defacing/ruining commissioned art (commissioned by the owner of the building) because they find it 'offensive,' wrote an LAist reader in an e-mail. "Why does no one consider the countless billboards for 'lap-band' surgery offensive? Or the ghastly electronic billboards? But yet a mural of people drinking and carousing on the exterior of a bar by a respected artist 'offensive?' Who is this panel of critics who decided this? What would these 'critics' have done to R. Crumb, to Basquiat, to Manet (Olympia was very saucy, called vulgar by conservatives in it's time)?"

What art should stay put and should go, of course, is up for debate. Lumbang's beloved mural caused a lot or protest because many enjoyed the work. Audiences on Konrad's work seem to be split. And if you remember, many hated the public art at the new LAPD headquarters and at the NoHo Arts District Gateway.

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