Volume 9, Number 2, May 1987, pp.6-7

L. A. Murals


(Reprinted from AEA News (Artists Equity Association, San Diego Chapter), March 1987.)

A lawsuit and a move to protect others from destruction. (Reported in Artweek, February 7, 1987.) A 5-1/2 million dollar lawsuit has been filed on behalf of artist Tom Van Sant against several corporations for the destruction of his 120 foot acrylic on canvas mural installed in the Crocker Citizens Plaza Building in L. A. It was alleged to have been destroyed when floor beams were driven through it and another wall was attached to its face as part of a remodeling project for the new tenant, AT & T. The 1967 commission depicting California history was attached to a freestanding, lightweight wall, and so could have been removed without damage. The lawsuit is based on the California Arts Preservation Act of 1980 which makes it illegal to "intentionally commit or authorize the intentional commission of any physical defacement, mutilation, alteration or destruction of a work of art." Van Sant says he is filing the lawsuit to stimulate public awareness, and will award the $5 million in punitive damages he is seeking to arts groups dealing with charitable or educational work. He would keep the $1/2 million in actual damages. He is supported by Artists Equity.

The L. A. Chapter of AEA, along with the L. A. Visual Arts Association and Visual Arts Guild, has formed the Los Angeles Mural Conservancy to "protect and maintain the murals of Los Angeles." Their first action will be to obtain a restoration of Kent Twitchell's 1974 Old Woman of the Freeway near Hollywood freeway, painted over by a billboard company. For more information on the Conservancy, call (213) 482-4724.

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