Monthly Archives: November 2007

SHAME on Gloria Molina for attacking FoLAR over legal murals in the River

1. Event announcement and details.

2. some video from the event…

3. From staffer Steve Hymon’s column in the Los Angeles Times – Nov 12, 2007

“Q: What is the big flap over murals along the Arroyo Seco about?

The fine line between murals and graffiti.

Several weeks ago, Friends of the Los Angeles River organized an event to allow artists to paint murals along the concrete walls of the Arroyo Seco, near where it empties into the L.A. River in downtown.

The idea was to give those who like to paint or tag a legal outlet. Well-known artist Man One also was also involved.

That was well and good, until county Supervisor Gloria Molina caught wind of the event after the fact and hit the roof. She didn’t like the content of some of the murals — one showed a topless woman — and worried that the murals would attract graffiti.

“We’ve always looked to them as partners in beautifying and greening the river, but with friends like this, who needs enemies,” Molina said Friday of the group’s mural project. “I think they have really violated their own mission.”

The dispute got juicier when some of the murals mysteriously were painted over. The group had obtained permits ahead of time and wanted to know if the county was responsible for the over-painting, but the county said no.

“Why not paint some place like that? — a completely degraded area where no one is living,” said Lewis MacAdams, a founder of the group. “I think we opened doors to whole new communities who had never been around the Los Angeles River.”

We visited the site with Councilman Ed Reyes last week. Reyes, the chairman of the council’s river restoration committee, hiked up his pants and waded in his dress shoes into the shallow water to look at the murals.

Reyes, who was told of the event ahead of time, said he sides with Molina. Although he found some of the remaining murals interesting — and we agree — most, he noted, have been tagged in recent weeks.

“What really worries me is that a tagging crew is going to come down here late one night and run into another tagging crew, and someone is going to get shot,” Reyes said.

Interestingly, he shares a similar frustration with the river group: Everywhere he looks, he sees graffiti, and he isn’t sure what to do about it. Create a graffiti art park? Crack down with more cops? Nothing, so far, has really worked, Reyes said.

In that vein, city contractors last year removed 3,864,422 square feet of graffiti from 35,847 locations in Reyes’ district, which includes neighborhoods west of downtown and parts of northeast L.A.

Congress last week overrode a presidential veto of a water bill that contains $25 million for L.A. River renovation. The money still has to be budgeted, but it’s a start.

If you’re keeping score at home, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-East Los Angeles) bird-dogged the funds in the House, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) did so on the Senate side.

As for the senator, the accompanying Boxer-o-Meter shows she has only $54 million to go to fulfill a promise to obtain $79 million for the river.


Scenes from last Saturday afternoon’s Arthur Magazine-presented L.A. River Beautification Meeting featuring NO AGE

Music performance by NO AGE.

Pix and report from Joshua Pressman at

Video documentation in three parts by

Part one: gathering

Part two: music…

Part three: busted by sadly misguided Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority rangers, working with a dubious understanding of the law

Beautify this.

So-called “beautification” teams of weekend workers doing their court-ordered supervised community service routinely wander through the Glendale Narrows section of the L.A. River, painting over markings on the River’s concrete walls. Of course, as Edward Abbey taught us, the concrete itself is the pollution — the litter — the offending presence. Painting concrete white with toxic paint is not beautification, nor is it efficacious on its own limited terms of graffiti abatement (the graffiti returns, as if by magic!, within hours as taggers, sloganeers and artists [is there any difference?] use the whited over concrete as fresh canvas). Better, then, that our beautifiers do something far more productive: removing the vast amounts of human-generated trash that clog and despoil the River, its islands and its inhabitants. The recent rains and winds have peeled back the reeds and this year’s growth so that the extent of the styrofoam, plastic and other abominable non-recyclable, non-biodegradable debris can be easily seen. Like this:


Yes, people live down there.

The photographer Stacy Kranitz and I came across this camp several weeks ago on one of the River’s many islands. Nobody was around. Since then, there’s been rain and cold; I assume the camp is gone, and publishing these photos will not endanger this beautiful home.

A welcome mat, at river’s edge…


A note.


A door…


Looking around…


A window view of the river…


Things gathered…


A pink curtain…


The guest bedroom…


Shelving, with dogfood…




Things left behind…

The master bedroom, facing the always-flowing water through a curtain of reeds…

Another view of the bedroom…


all photos by Stacy Kranitz

More photography by Stacy Kranitz

A view of the burned portion of Griffith Park from the River…

You go first.

Stick yer neck out.

This cart grew here.

all photos by Stacy Kranitz

New photography by Stacy Kranitz


All photos by Stacy Kranitz

Opening tonight in Pasadena

From the artist:

“The work derives its title from the original name given to the river (obvious enough) and incorporates a relatively unknown photographic technique called an orotone.

“For the series, I have been exploring the LA River as a datum for the explorations and questions relating to a new sense of what is ‘nature.’ Knowing the River was originally named after the small field (‘porciuncula’ is loosely defined as ‘a small portion of land’) where St. Francis of Assisi developed a monastic order based on a lack of worldly possessions and an admiration for the natural environment, the Los Angeles river becomes a paradox in its own right. The massive concrete structure intended to allow the massive expanse of the city now protects the Glendale Narrows – one of the few spaces in a concrete city choked by its own waste where, as a protected sight, ‘nature’ is left to fend for herself. For the work, I have been using a photographic technique used mainly in the teens that involve photographs on gold-backed glass. The idea is that the large scale gold-leafed plates adorning the jungle-like images from the Los Angeles river bring into question the schizophrenic ideals of what is or could be considered ‘natural.'”