Don’t Kid Yourself: The Mural Attack Alert

Saturday, April 13, 2019

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-hitting-the-wall-mural-whitewashed-caltrans-20190412-story.html

I just tweeted: “The whitewashing of this mural was NOT an accident, but a deliberate, vicious attack on an artist depicting an extraordinarily important moment in women’s sports.” I will now elaborate.

In this blog, I try to maintain a relatively calm, thoughtful tone that is civil and respectful, but my patience with those who behavior is deplorable has reached a boiling point with this latest attack on cultural work. Do not kid yourself. The blotting out of this mural was a direct, intentional assault on women, both in the artistic and athletic domain. For the California Department of Transportation to claim that they cannot determine who bears the responsibility for this act is a despicable act of bureaucratic cowardice in which misogynistic behavior is protected as if it were an endangered species.

Think about it, folks. If this were a mural by Edward Ruscha depicting Kirk Gibson’s World Series home run in 1988, do you really think it would have been obliterated without anyone saying a thing? Do you honestly believe that an all-male work crew would happily wield their rollers and mush on whitewash right over Vin Scully’s face in the broadcast booth as he mouths the words, “In a year of the improbable, the impossible has happened”? Give me a fuckin’ break. Patriarchal hypocrisy just farted in our faces.

I have the good fortune to recollect that I witnessed both the start and finish of the first Women’s Marathon at the 1984 Olympics. It is one of my most treasured memories. My first wife, Cathay, who was on a running team when she served in the U.S. Army, and I went to Santa Monica College early one morning to witness the start of the race; and we then drove to the USC Coliseum to witness its finish. Somewhere, in an archival box, I have some photographs I took at that event, and I will post them as soon as I can find them.

In the meantime, I want to say that I regard this action as no different than having someone physically assault me. There is no amount of money that can make up for this insult to women artists and women athletes. It is not an isolated action, but directly connected to the forces in our society that are passing “fetal heartbeat” anti-abortion bills.

We’ve seen these kinds of characters before, both in daily life and in the history of fascist activism. “Wenn ich Kultur höre … entsichere ich meine Browning!” (Hans Johst) Do not pretend that the same forces are not at work in this present example. “When I see a mural depicting feminist empowerment, I fill my bucket with whitewash.”

I urge all of us to send both notes of solidarity (as well as any economic support we can offer) to Judy Baca’s S.P.A.R.C.

The Social and Public Art Resource Center
685 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

This organization, which is located next to Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, is leading the effort to restore the mural. Spark the resistance!