Wrangling Art's Cowboys
Shelley Leopold's story on MOCA's rad, unprecedented street art exhibit ("Anarchy at MOCA," April 15) described the struggle museum director Jeffrey Deitch faced trying to get the world's most rebellious artists to participate in anything as structured as a museum show. His first misstep was commissioning Italian muralist Blu to paint an exterior wall of the museum, near a war memorial. After Blu painted coffins draped in dollar bills, Deitch had the work destroyed.
Readers took exception, expressing the ethos of street artists.
Ammaflre writes: "What a bunch of bullshit. If you are commissioned to do a mural you have to 'play nice'? Street art has never been about playing nice. How about we call Deitch's decision to white out Blu's mural what it was? Censorship."
Mattcornell also seizes on the phrase "play nice," writing: "That pretty much sums up why there's a Nike skate ramp, but no Blu antiwar mural at the MOCA show. Exit through the gift shop, indeed."
Reader NXT takes exception to this quote from Aaron Rose, co-curator of the exhibit, about the decision to allow two giant American companies (Nike and Levi's) to help sponsor the event. "We are working with brands that are already a huge part of this world," Rose says. "It is a very organic fit. They are companies who have invested heavily in street culture for years."
NXT's response: "Corporate marketing parasites."
Bob writes: "Whitewashing Blu's mural was not simply an act of artistic censorship — it was an act of political censorship. If Blu had created a pro-war mural there would have been no whitewashing and no controversy. By meekly accepting the destruction of Blu's work, the L.A. art community is endorsing the notion that antiwar art must ride in the back of the bus if it is allowed to ride at all."
BadAssBitch replies: "It wasn't about being pro- or antiwar, the reason it was buffed was out of respect for the residents. Across the way from the mural is the 'Go for Broke' monument, which commemorates the 442nd Regimental Combat Team: They were Nisei — American-born sons of Japanese immigrants who fought during WWII. Simply put, it was a poor choice in judgment on Blu's part. He didn't bother to research where he was painting."
Ammaflre shoots back: "Did Deitch hold a community meeting and ask anyone if they were offended? How about the fact that MOCA sits on the very spot where Japanese were shipped off to internment camps? How about that for censorship? I am positive that Blu knew exactly what he was doing — that wall looks directly at the VA where many of the vets there would most likely have agreed with Blu's statement and Dept. of Homeland Security where people are deported from — but hey, you can become a U.S. citizen if you join the military."
Precious Old Bones
Is it just us, or did others find the story about the bungled research on the location of Native American remains a trip back in time ("Bone Bungling at Old Cemetery," by Arnie Cooper, April 15)? Given all the historical documents available, not to mention the availability of ground-penetrating radar, how could workers not know they were digging in a burial ground?
The story reported that workers building a Mexican-American center downtown — a cause championed by county Supervisor Gloria Molina — unexpectedly found the bones of 118 people. The former cemetery site was supposed to have been cleared of all human remains in 1844.
Maria G. Benitez writes: "Los Pobladores 200: We are the descendants of the founding families of Los Angeles, and we, too, are involved as we also have our ancestors which were buried there. I myself found 18 ancestors. ... We are united with Andy Salas and the Gabrieleno Band of Mission Indians. We together with the Gabrielenos want our ancestors' remains reburied with dignity and a memorial park in the location."
Merlo writes: "This is a very disturbing story. Gloria Molina will push her agenda no matter what the cost. There are many more places that she could have put this museum. ... Totally disgusted by her actions and this is one 'Mexican-American' museum I will not be visiting."
Mikijackson writes: "Unacceptable is a nice word for the typical practice by government agencies of hiring the same bad contractors over and over with no real consequences for shoddy work. These outfits usually contribute to elected officials and are politically connected. ... It's a merry-go-round of taxpayer fund abuse and bad work."
Write to Us
Reach us at L.A. Weekly, 3861 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230, or at ReadersWrite@laweekly.com. Please include your full name and contact information.
Get the Weekly Newsletter