This page tells of the art conservation efforts to save the gorgeous 13 murals on downtown Los Angeles freeways that were commissioned for the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival.
1. The first mural to be worked on was the Jim Morphesis Monument by Kent Twitchell. It is located on the 101 freeway under the Grand Ave. overpass. Click here to see videos and written info. http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/jim-morphesis-monument-by-kent-twitchell/
History of Mural Conservation – Restoration Efforts
10 living master muralists, commissioned for the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, painted the the 1984 Olympics murals series that adorned Downtown LA freeways with 13 monumental fabulous murals. The smallest of these murals is 15 feet high and 45 feet wide. The largest is 23 feet high and 300 feet long!! Since their placement on the freeways, however, vandalism graffiti has all but obliterated the fabulous, quality public works of art and has saddened millions of Los Angelinos and visitors. Once tagged, Caltrans has painted over 9 of the 13 murals through the years with gray paint. 4 of the murals have escaped the overpainting by Caltrans.
There have been compelling desires over the years to restore first the murals not painted out by Caltrans but ultimately all of the 13 murals. Yes, the gray overpaint by Caltrans can be removed and the original murals restored to look wonderful. But efforts have always fallen short when it comes to maintaining the murals and keeping the graffiti off. There have been a number of reasons for this but it boils down to establishing a professional, committed organization/team to follow through and work well with all the entities involved… and the consistency to “stay on it.”
The definitive and actionable planning for this conservation – restoration and maintenance effort was put into action in April of 2011 when The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) invited FACL, Inc. and Scott M. Haskins, art and mural conservator to meet on the freeways with Caltrans: http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/projects/murals/mural-conservancy-of- los-angeles-meets-with-caltrans-to-inspect-downtown-la-freeway-murals/.
Several graffiti removal processes were evaluated in a subsequent visit in June 2011 to the mural “Jim Morphesis Monument” with Caltrans’ Vincent Moreno and artist, Kent Twitchell. With the “adoption” of Jim Morphesis Monument and the raising of funds for its continued maintenance, graffiti removal tests were done to establish the cleaning and mural restoration processes. Combinations of methodology and materials specifically customized to meet the needs of this particular mural were evaluated with the purpose of discovering the right method to get the job done quickly (a necessary requirement while working on a freeway!) and be able to maintain it easily over time (as the mural gets retagged).
The results of FACL’s research and treatments for this mural have been applied by the artist’s of the murals to undertake or direct the conservation-restoration of the other 12 murals… all in all a great step forward in recuperating our city’s lost art monuments.