first_imgThe idea of using murals to fight blight is nothing new. Murals have existed in Southern California for decades, going back to the 1930s, when the New Deal-era federal Public Works Art Project commissioned artists to paint murals on post offices and other public buildings. But whether murals can stop spray-painting taggers and gang members is an open question. It depends largely on the quality of the mural and whether it gets widespread support from the community, said Bill Lasarow, presi dent of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. “Sometimes it will work for X number of years – and then all of a sudden it doesn’t,” he said. “These are kids \ for the most part, and the generation turns over all the time. “It has to be of sufficient quality to earn that respect,” he added. “If it’s planned and done properly by a qualified professional, it can be protected and maintained for a sustained period of time.” At Rio Hondo Park in Pico Rivera, a group of regular handball players have banded together to make sure no one defaces a mural completed last year that depicts their Montebello Gardens neighborhood. Its colorful panels show Aztecs next to men playing cards while others wait to play handball, agricultural fields from the neighborhood’s early days and other scenes of life in “El Jardin,” “The Garden.” “We don’t stand guard or anything; we just spread the word in the neighborhood and talk to kids at the park and ask them not to tag it,” said Manuel Pedroza, 36. “It really tells a story of life in the `Jardin.’ That is why it is so important to protect it,” he said. [email protected] [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 3022, 3028160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WHITTIER – Are murals the answer to gang graffiti and crew-tagging? Whittier Cultural Arts Commissioner Russell Castaneda-Calleros thinks they might well be. The mural afficionado said that he has seen previously- blighted walls in Echo Park turned into points of neighborhood pride after murals were painted over them. “What I’m envisioning is having folks in the community, the city and public safety all becoming involved in a partnership. They could work together to design and paint a mural on the site where graffiti is appearing,” said Castaneda-Calleros, who plans to suggest the idea at the city’s upcoming graffiti forum in May. “Murals can tell the history of a local community,” he said. “I found out that, more often than not, when the community was involved, when they had a stake in the designation and painting of the mural, it would be respected. You wouldn’t see graffiti go up there again.” last_img