L.A.’s long-running Siqueiros affair


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An attempt to restore David Alfaro Siqueiros’ mural, “America Tropical,” to public view on Olvera Street is one of the longest-running art stories in Los Angeles. It’s also the longest-running commitment of the Getty Conservation Institute.

Created by the Mexican artist in 1932, the huge mural was obliterated by white paint soon after it was finished because the central image — a crucifix of a Mexican Indian topped by an American eagle — offended civic officials. A movement to uncover the artwork began in 1969 but didn’t gather force until 1988, when the Getty teamed up with El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, the city department that administers the site.


The Getty Foundation has spent $3.95 million on the project, the city has contributed $5 million and conservation work has been done. But completion of the mural’s shelter, viewing platform and interpretive center has been repeatedly delayed by bureaucratic entanglements, changes of personnel and technical problems.

At this point, the public opening is still two years off — if construction proceeds on schedule — but frustrated Siqueiros lovers may take comfort in two major exhibitions at other locations. “Siqueiros: Landscape Painter,” at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, reveals a little known but powerful aspect of the artist’s work. “Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied,” opening Sept. 24 at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park, tells the story of his seven-month sojourn in Los Angeles and its aftermath.

Read more on the Siqueiros mural.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Colorized rendering of David Alfaro Siqueiros’ América Tropical, 1932