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Arts

Artist of Paint-Splattered Villaraigosa Mural Speaks Out

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Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 8:01 AM


Over the past few weeks, we've been reporting about the numerous controversies surrounding a mural of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at Susy's Meat Market in East Hollywood, where someone splattered red paint on Villaraigosa's face and later spray-painted "vendido" on his left collar, which was eventually covered over with white paint.

click to enlarge Villaraigosa mural at Susy's Meat Market in East Hollywood - TED SOQUI
  • Ted Soqui
  • Villaraigosa mural at Susy's Meat Market in East Hollywood
Now, David Torres, the artist better known as "Rabi," who created the mural, has contacted us via email with his own update about what's happening at the site.

Rabi tells us that when he and an artist friend named Retna were painting the mural, they increasingly heard passersby "voice their opinions" about Villaraigosa -- and they weren't all that flattering. After a while, Rabi says, he realized that "maybe it wasn't such a great idea to endorse this guy."

But Rabi was commissioned by the owner of Susy's Meat Market to paint the piece, so he maintained his professionalism, finished the mural, and was quite pleased with the result. About two months later, in September, someone splattered red paint on his creation.

"At first, I was pretty disappointed," Rabi writes to us in an email, referring to the red paint, "but then I started to like it even more, it's become more than another mural -- it's now a statement and an expression of the public, a movement if you will."

To take it one step further, Rabi went back to the mural yesterday and made an addition with his own red paint. "Like Sand In The Wind," the artist wrote, with a tag of "The Fear."

click to enlarge Rabi's addition to the Villaraigosa mural at Susy's Meat Market ​ - RABI
  • Rabi
  • Rabi's addition to the Villaraigosa mural at Susy's Meat Market ​
"What this (saying) refers to is the monks that finish their sand paintings and then blow them away," Rabi tells us. "Also the fact that this Mayor/man is but a speckle in our time soon to be forgotten and a new Mayor/man and mural will emerge, and so on."

You can see the various stages of Rabi painting the mural and his other work at his Web site: www.dtladesigns.com.

"The Fear," Rabi also explains, is an "(art) campaign that my friends and I are promoting and will soon be a large part of this city.  'The fear' does not mean to be afraid -- it is the total opposite, therefore completely materializing the word and leaving it powerless."

Villaraigosa often said he hoped to inspire Angelenos, but recent events at Susy's Meat Market suggest that his time as mayor has gotten people riled up for all of the wrong reasons . . . and now they're looking to take it to The Man, who, in this case, is Villaraigosa.

It's something that a young Tony Villar, sporting a "Born to Raise Hell" tattoo, could have never predicted for his own future. In fact, that hell-raising teenager from East L.A., if he was a teenager today, would probably be joining Rabi and his pals in their righteous fun.

Can anyone say "eye-opener"?

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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