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Scott M. Haskins, Art Conservator
Feb. 26, 2023
Click on this link to see the details of a wonderful mural recovery and restoration project we worked on over the last few years. at https://www.fineartconservationlab.com/historical-aids…/ In short, the initial motivation of the mural restoration project was an effort to reclaim meaningful public art from graffiti vandals. It wasn’t the first attempt, though. The mural had been scrubbed on and repainted several times even within the artist’s lifetime. It took several years to research, get resounding community support, raise money and complete this mural restoration project with Covid thrown into the equation. The paint used for the painting of the mural was upgraded and the final mural was coated with 4 layers of MuralGuard by Rainguard Pro.
Last weekend, a well-planned out group of vandals in a Mercedes stopped, took out their ladders and calmly (it appeared that way on the video) did their deed. The graffiti was put up high to discourage being cleaned off and it was applied thick. This tag was about 10′ x 30′ and was put over the top of the most sensitive color on the wall. Given the underpass roadway circumstances, the size and technique of the tag, this was a devastating difficult tag to remove easily… normally.
In addition, neighborhood groups loudly protested that their alerts to the city about the burned-out lights in the underpass left the tunnel especially dark at night, an important security factor.
The key to the long-term beautification that this colorful mural can contribute to the neighborhood is the interest and pride of ownership of the neighborhood organization. More on that at the end of this article. But more than just a pretty painted wall as a decoration of the neighborhood, this mural hold major significance, historically, as it represents the research fight to find something for AIDS in the middle 1980s when it seemed like an apocalyptic plague.
Kudos to the neighborhood organizations that live around Blue Moon Trilogy, the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of LA and the District Office for getting on the removal right away. Only 4 days old, this graffiti was removed with great success, largely made possible by the multiple layers of protective coating, #MuralGuard, and the care of the removers. A big applause for everyone… this is the kind of maintenance that is required to keep this wall clean. Its a “high impact” zone and will require quick action again in the future. Even the burned-out lights in the underpass were changed out!
Another Successful Mural Maintenance Effort:
I have related often the story about a mural on Balboa Island, Newport. The 10’ x 15‘ mural is at street level and in a very high pedestrian traffic area. It was coated with a similar varnish product to the type we used on Blue Moon Trilogy (which is now out of production). Actually, the product we used is higher quality. Local senior citizens keep an eye on the mural and when it gets tagged (at least monthly) they immediately come out with Goo-gone and scrub it off. I inspected the mural many years after its creation and the application of the anti-graffiti varnish and I was amazed at how good it looked.. It has a two-part urethane finish on it (#MuralGuard) and has been kept clean for almost 20 years.
I understand that the Department of Cultural Affairs cannot encourage the neighborhood to keep the murals free of graffiti but I want to reaffirm with you that I am willing to do a workshop with the neighborhood to guide and train volunteers to quickly remove small tags that might discourage bigger tags.
As you know, our restoration efforts will be obliterated by graffiti without a maintenance effort and if I can help brainstorm and implement such an effort, please do not hesitate to ask me. I’m offering to do consultations and train on this matter as a heartfelt free public/community service.
Onward and upward!
Scott M. Haskins, Head of Conservation
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