Save Barbara Black’s North Hollywood Graffiti Art Mural
North Hollywood resident Barbara Black finds herself in the middle of a dispute with the City of Los Angeles over her 90-foot fence that she decided to make into a mural. Barbara wanted to give upcoming North Hollywood Graffiti artists a canvas to show their art and to help the students feel a sense of pride and dignity for themselves and this art form. The principal at North Hollywood High School helped her find 10 students who were good Graffiti artists and very enthusiastic about the project.
For a month these students worked on the mural and were almost finished when Barbara received a citation from the City of Los Angeles for violating Building & Safety's "advertising signage" codes. The City considers this mural an advertisement, NOT ART. There is no Coca-Cola ad, no iTunes ad, no Nike ad, no ad whatsoever on this mural. So why then does the City consider this advertising? What, in fact, is it advertising? Isn’t this her property?
Barbara was slapped with a $336 fine and the mural must be removed by March 24 or she will face other penalties up to $1,900 if she tries to appeal and fight to keep the mural up. The City wants her to paint over the art with white paint prior to March 24 but she will still be forced to pay the $336 fine as punishment for putting up the mural in the first place.
However, Barbara is on a fixed-income and can't afford to pay the fine much less fight "City Hall." For several decades, she was a costume illustrator for film/TV but now lives modestly as an artist. Barbara is just trying to encourage an art form and, most importantly, to give a few local North Hollywood kids an opportunity to feel good about themselves and their art.
This brings us to the second, much larger issue at hand: Graffiti ART as an art form. Graffiti has been synonymous with vandalism but Graffiti Art is simply a style of art. Not everyone gets it. Not everyone appreciates its aesthetic. The actual practice of Graffiti goes back to the Mayans, but it was not thought of as an art form until the 1970s when the art world saw the work on the New York subways. The Graffiti Art movement produced such famous artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and this street art influenced Bansky, Shepard Fairey and countless others. If Graffiti Art is not your taste, that’s fine. But, it should not be disqualified as an art style.
So Barbara’s mural was not an act of vandalism but a commissioned piece of Graffiti Art. Across the street from Barbara’s mural you will see another mural that was painted several years ago but was never cited by the City. Guess what, it isn’t Graffiti Art. Can we believe that this is happening because one neighbor decided he/she didn't like Graffiti Art and called the City? Why didn’t this same neighbor call the City about the other mural?
While we may not be able to change someone’s mind about Graffiti Art being a legitimate art style, we can at least try to change the outrageous government ordinance that is prohibiting North Hollywood from creating murals to beautify the neighborhood all under the guise of a “City of L.A. signage issue.”
Please stand with Barbara Black and our young, North Hollywood Graffiti artists. Email, Tweet, Facebook, etc. this article and tell North Hollywood Councilman Paul Krekorian:
SAVE Barbara Black’s North Hollywood Graffiti Art Mural
Call: (818) 755-7676
Fax: (818) 755-7862
6350 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Ste 201
North Hollywood, CA 91606