Dear Mayor Garcetti,
United Painters and Public Artists, UPPA, represents hundreds of muralists and public artists in Los Angeles, who worked diligently along side the city to write the new mural ordinance. This painstaking task took the final 3 years of an over decade long struggle to re-legalize murals in the city of LA. We did not do all that work in vain, only to see the walls of our beloved city covered with corporate advertisements.
When the initial “Supermodel” controversy arose, and the mural was ordered down, UPPA and the arts community were happy to see the city and the Mayor taking a stance to protect the integrity of public art in LA, and rejecting the sneaky attempts of corporations to advertise under the guise of public art. However, when reports surfaced that the Mayor changed his mind, caving under the pressure of unhappy “Foster the People” fans, the LA arts community was shocked and devastated, wondering “Will our Mayor betray us, and disregard the very public policy that he supported?”
Could he? Does the Mayor even have the power to override a public ordinance? If so, what is the point of creating public policy?
Now, we find ourselves in limbo, waiting to see if our city leadership will honor their own laws, or if we need to bring attention to our position and garner public support. We fully supported your original decision to remove the Supermodel ad, and did not feel the need to intervene. We believed, and want to continue believing, that you care as much about LA’s cultural heritage as we do. But now we are concerned that there is a lack of support and solidarity surrounding the mural ordinance. Please alleviate this concern by ordering the removal of the Supermodel ad. We need your support, and frankly we deserve it.
We are aware of the violations of codes in regard to the content of the art as a commercial image, as well as the lack of permission to alter a historic building. UPPA would like to ask the Mayor’s office to address the definition of public art as “non-commercial” and set a precedent that this type of policy abuse is not welcome in Los Angeles, in order to deter others from attempting to put up hand painted ads under the guise of murals.
Right now, while there is publicity surrounding this topic, the city has a great opportunity to educate the people about our great tradition of public art, and explain thoroughly why the Supermodel ad is not public art, and what the differences are. UPPA is launching an educational campaign, the city should consider using the momentum of this controversy to help the public better understand the definition and value of public art.
Thank you, we are counting on your support and good judgement and look forward to future partnerships in community beautification.
United Painters & Public Artists