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Voices From the Walls: Muralism in Los Angeles

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How can a city famous for its murals have a moratorium prohibiting new ones? ISABEL ROJAS-WILLIAMS, Executive Director of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, has been working with the City Planning Commission, muralists and other organizations, to craft a new ordinance that will lift this restrictive ban, allowing new murals on private property in Los Angeles.  In this free lecture sponsored by the Crain Art Gallery, Rojas-Williams will present a brief history of muralism in Los Angeles and discuss all the controversies and milestones.

Though the modern Los Angeles public mural was born during the turmoil of the 1960s, the roots of classic muralism reach back to Alfred Ramos Martinez, Father of the Mexican Mural Movement, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The Getty Conservation Institute and the City of Los Angeles are preparing to unveil soon the restored Tropical América, the mural that Siqueiros painted in Los Angeles in 1932, that was subsequently whitewashed by the conservative politics of the time. 

The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles was established in 1987, by a coalition of artists, public art advocates, city and state officials, and restoration specialists. Its mission today was the same as it was then: to restore, preserve, and document the murals of Los Angeles. In its role as public art advocate, MCLA works to protect the legal rights of artists and to prevent the loss of significant works of public art. Most importantly, MCLA is committed to preserving Los Angeles as one of the mural capitals of the world.

Born in Santiago, Chile, Isabel Rojas-Williams has lived in Southern California for the past 39 years and has actively studied, documented, and lectured on the social-political art movements of Los Angeles. She has taught art history at California State University, Los Angeles, where she earned her Master’s degree, and has been the curator of multiple exhibitions documenting the city’s rich legacy of urban art, curatorial, civic, and creative contributions to Los Angeles.

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