Photo: "Mitin Obrero"
A mural by Mexico’s David Alfaro Siqueiros that was censored in the United States in 1932 could be restored if art promoters can round up the necessary funding to recover it from beneath layers of paint and cement.
A leader of the Chicano movement, photojournalist and independent curator Luis Garza, explained why the mural, titled “Mitin Obrero” (Workers’ Meeting), was so controversial in its day.
“Because of the subject matter, a ‘Workers’ Meeting,’ with a labor organizer with a red shirt, the controversy was a bit heated,” he told Efe.
“Because it was about union organizing, because it was about interracial relations among workers, in which a black man is seen with his son and a white woman with her son in the same ... picture,” the audiovisual artist, who photographed Siqueiros in 1971 at the World Peace Council in Budapest, said.
Garza said these subjects were not “very popular” in 1932 in Los Angeles, and therefore “the entire mural was covered almost immediately.”
In 2005, Garza was motivated by an exhibition of the Mexican painter’s work to begin looking for the place where “Mitin Obrero” was created.
His search led him to a building where the Nelbert Chouinard art school was located before the property was purchased by the Korean Good News Church.
Siqueiros (1896-1974), who was a member of the Mexican Communist Party, had been invited in 1932 by the founder of the school to paint the mural and provide instruction to students of muralism in Los Angeles, Garza explained.
The property now is being used as a daycare.
Byeong Kim, director of the LA New Times Western School, told Efe that he has known that a large mural by an important Mexican painter was located above the kitchen ceiling and that people had been trying to secure the funds to buy the building, which he said he was only renting.
“The owner is the church, but since it’s a lot of money they haven’t been able to buy it yet,” Kim said.
Restoration experts accompanied Garza on a visit to the property in 2006 and they discovered pigments of the mural after removing layers of paint and cement paste.
Authorities in Los Angeles censored another 1930s mural by Siqueiros, “America Tropical,” that showed a Latin American man crucified under an eagle’s talons.
Restored thanks to a $9.95 million investment by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the city of Los Angeles, the fresco was placed back in public view last year.