See here and here for the background to this post.
Dear Councilmember O’Farrell,
As you may already be aware, the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance is presently holding a competition to choose artwork to adorn signal boxes in the Hollywood Entertainment District, which they contract with the City of Los Angeles to administer. As you know, the L.A. Department of Transportation requires your approval for this project to move forward. I am writing to ask you to withhold your consent from the HPOA’s plan pending a revision of their stated rules which, regardless of the intent, have the effect of significantly lowering the chance that Latino artists working in some of our most vibrant local traditions will be chosen for this honor.
The problem is that the BID’s stated requirements for submissions include the proviso that “NO Cartoon Images or Graffiti work of any kind will be considered.”1 Graffiti art and cartoon styles are associated in L.A. with Latino, especially Mexican-American artists. Work by Los Angeles artists in these genres has brought world renown, not just to the artists themselves, but to our City. Thus it’s hard to understand why it’s not good enough to appear on the signal boxes of Hollywood. The mystery only deepens when one considers that the HPOA’s requirements also state that “Text Art” will be given full consideration, as if Graffiti art were not also “Text Art.” Continue reading An Open Letter to Mitch O’Farrell Regarding Signal Box Art in the Hollywood Entertainment District→
The theme of each project must include “Hollywood”. Be inspired by the city, its history and future!
NO3 Cartoon Images or Graffiti work of any kind will be considered.
Do you see the contradiction here? The history of “Hollywood”4 and even more so the future of Hollywood includes cartoon images and graffiti work, both of which styles are inextricably associated with Latino culture in Los Angeles, including, to the evident dismay of the HPOA, Hollywood itself. And even bracketing this uncaring aggressive ignorance about the local culture, we have to wonder who says something like that out loud? Hate graffiti art if you will, or any kind of art, but if you’re announcing a public contest to choose art for public display to be paid for with public money, have the self-awareness to understand that by announcing out loud that you won’t consider a style of art that’s so strongly associated with Latinos you’re making yourself look like a ignorant racist yahoo. Just a fact. You don’t have to believe us, ask your PR firm.5
Just for instance, consider the world-famous Hollywood/Vine Red Line station. Metro commissioned artwork from world-famous Los Angeles artist Gilbert Luján to decorate the station. According to Metro:
Artist and architect worked together to evoke the history, glamour and excitement of the Hollywood film industry’s yesteryears and its great movie palaces.