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Commissioned Mural Painted Over After City Claims the Art is Advertising

Illegal guerrilla marketing or graffiti art? Photo courtesy of NoHoArtsDistrict
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Valley Village's Barbara Black wanted to support young artists, so she commissioned a mural painted by 10 North Hollywood High School students for the 75-foot fence on her property. Yesterday afternoon, Black, with the help of other artists and friends, whitewashed the artwork in order to comply with the City of Los Angeles' ruling that the mural was illegal advertising.Not long after the colorful painting was completed last month, officials slapped Black with a $336 fine, and told the former film and television costume illustrator she faced nearly $2000 more in fines if she did not remove the mural. Black "used a donation from her church," to pay the fine, according to the LA Times.

At issue was a single word: "Like."

Among the vibrant swirls of color was the word, which, according to the city, makes the piece "signage," and Black in violation of codes governing advertising.

Signage codes have been on the books for nearly a decade. Officials could pursue adopting a permitting process in the future for a mural such as Black's now-whitewashed one, however the fee could be as high as $10,000.

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Among those taking a brush to the wall yesterday were some of the mural's original artists. For a moment, in white paint, a friend of Black's wrote out "Art = Love," on top of the mural, before the rest of the white paint was filled in. "Instead of this, the city ought to be fixing potholes," remarked one of the participants.