A work of art that so shocked and angered people when it was unveiled in L.A. 80-years ago that it was nearly white washed out of existence is about to go on display again and get the star treatment.
In 1932, famed Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros painted “America Tropical,” an enormous mural above the stores and crowds of Olvera Street. The civic leaders who commissioned the 80-foot long piece thought they were going to get a tourist-friendly work of art celebrating the romance and beauty of Latin America. Think pretty senoritas and handsome caballeros. What they got instead was a politically-charged mural depicting an Indian tied to a cross with an eagle looming above him. You didn’t have to be an art major to recognize the message: Siqueiros, a proud militant lefitst, was blasting what he felt was the exploitation of Latin America by Yankee imperialism.
The mural was so controversial that it was painted over soon after it was unveiled and was nearly forgotten for decades. In recent years, experts from the Getty Conervation Institutehave been working to painstakingly clean the mural and arrest its further decay. In October, “America Tropical” will be unveiled again to the public, along with a new visitors center that will explore the history of the mural and the life of David Alfaro Siqueros. KCRW got a sneak preview of the on-going conservation work.
Here’s the Which Way LA? broadcast on the mural:
And you can see many more photos of the conservation in progress, below.