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L.A. tells Foster the People: Take down this mural

Foster the People's 'Supermodel' mural in downtown L.A. must be removed by July 14
A giant mural has sparked debate over whether it is art or an ad for Foster the People's 'Supermodel' album
Foster the People will document the painting over of its 'Supermodel' mural in L.A. on July 14

Foster the People’s massive downtown Los Angeles mural, unveiled in January ahead of the release of the band’s latest album, “Supermodel,” will be coming down sooner than expected because of conflicts with city officials over its approval.

“Our Supermodel mural must come down by July 14th,” the band’s Mark Foster said in a statement issued Friday. “This news has come as a surprise and disappointment to me and everyone else that collaborated on making this project happen. This mural was our contribution to the city of Los Angeles - our kiss of color to the city we love. The permits that we were told were approved, have retroactively been denied due to a number of issues involving the building and the city.”

The 125-by-150-foot painting occupies the wall of a building at 539 S. Los Angeles St. and provided the backdrop for a free show that Foster the People played on Jan. 23 in preparation for the March 18 release of the “Supermodel” album.

At that time, Foster said: “Living down here the last four years, I've gotten to be part of a cultural renaissance. I feel like Los Angeles has given us a lot, and we wanted to give something back. There's a lot of people who live down here, who walk past or ride the bus to work past that wall every day. They have no idea who we are, but they're going to be able to see a piece of art that's making their neighborhood more beautiful, even if they never listen to the band."

Foster’s new statement didn’t detail what led to the denial of permits, but the city’s regulations on murals require that they cannot be advertisements, and there’s been discussion in the community since it went up over whether the mural constitutes an ad for the “Supermodel” album or is a legitimate piece of art.

“Never did I think I would be involved in creating an art piece of this scale and magnitude,” Foster said in his statement. “We feel truly honored to have been able to share it with you over the last year. Art brings to life things that can seemingly be dead, and can put a fresh perspective on things that are living. It's so important we keep creating.”

He also noted that the group will document the painting over of the mural and invited people to the site on Monday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. to share their thoughts “about art, your history with Los Angeles, music, community, and anything else that you might have on your heart.”

A Foster the People fan has launched a Change.org petition to save the mural that had collected more than 2,400 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

Follow @RandyLewis2 on Twitter for pop music coverage.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

3:29 p.m.: This story has been updated with information about a petition to save the mural.

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