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City Removes 1980 Mural at Santa Monica Park


Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

February 16, 2016 -- Crews began removing a 36-year-old mural that decorated the entrance stairwell at Josyln Park as part of a project to repair the stairwell. But a nearby plaque dedicated to a beloved resident will go up at a new location in the park, officials said.

“Ocean Park Historical Postcards,” originally painted in 1980 by Art Mortimer, was painted over last week as part of repairs to fix ongoing problems with drainage and water infiltration in the park's retaining wall, officials said.

“The artist was notified that the mural would be painted over when improvements were made to the wall,” said Jessica Cusick, cultural affairs manager, in a news release.

A plaque dedicated to the memory and community work of Ocean Park resident Valerie Nordstrom Barnard will be preserved and removed from the wall and installed in a new location within the park, she said.

Mortimer in 1994 “substantially” repainted his mural, Cusick said. The mural, however, is in bad shape, with large chunks of the image flacking and fading.

According to his website, Mortimer has painted more than 100 murals in cities across Southern California, using vivid colors and foreshadowing to create realistic scenes of the region's early era.

“In 2002, the mural was assessed by painting conservators who found that substantial structural damage to the concrete walls continues to affect the overall condition of the mural, particularly in the sections that are sub-grade retaining walls that are not a suitable for a mural,” she said.

The City is in the process of re-evaluating all of its collection of public art. Last year, a conservation firm was brought in to help City staff complete the first comprehensive survey of the City’s collection since 2001, said Cusick.

“The survey not only provides a snapshot of the collection in terms of its age and condition, but of its diversity in terms of the types of work, and its distribution throughout the City,” she said.

Members of two City commissions, the Arts Commission and its Public Art Committee, are now using the survey to come up with “a holistic plan” for preserving the rest of the Santa Monica's collection of public artworks. Some pieces in the collection are more than 30 years old, she added.

Officials also plan to meet with the family of Valerie Nordstrom Barnard to determine the best spot within Joslyn Park for the bronze plaque dedicated to her, said Cusick.

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