"The Pope of Broadway" will be getting a face-lift.
The famed mural of actor Anthony Quinn, which artist Eloy Torrez painted in 1985 on the side of the Victor Clothing Building on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, looms over a parking lot with Quinn's arms outstretched, Jesus-like, with crosses beneath them; his suit is rumpled, and he looks weary.
As does the mural itself: It is sun-faded and cracked, with moisture damage, swaths of peeling paint and bits of graffiti.
On Wednesday morning, the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles and Councilman Jose Huizar will hold a news conference to announce a restoration project that will bring "The Pope" back to life.
As part of the city's Bringing Back Broadway program, which has included the reboot of Grand Central Market and restored façade lighting for about a dozen historic buildings along the corridor, Huizar secured a donation for $150,000 to refurbish Torrez's 70-foot work. The funds come from Greenland USA, the company behind the downtown hotel and condo complex Metropolis, and is earmarked specifically for the mural project.
"Anthony Quinn's rise from humble immigrant beginnings to worldwide recognition as one of the greatest artists of his day continues to inspire many here in the city of Los Angeles," Huizar said in an interview. He added: " 'The Pope of Broadway' is not only an important part of our Bringing Back Broadway initiative, it is a masterful piece of art that reminds us of the importance of mural restoration and the reason we overturned the 11-year ban on murals on private property: so artists can create new masterpieces."
The project is scheduled to start in early 2015, led by the Mural Conservancy, which is also restoring the 1984 Olympic Arts Murals along the 101 Freeway. The group hopes to finish that work by 2016, conservancy Executive Director Isabel Rojas Williams said.
Conservators will work closely with Torrez during the restoration process to maintain the integrity of the mural.
" 'The Pope of Broadway' speaks of our history, of our past and of our future," Williams said. "Quinn trail-blazed and opened many pathways for today's Latino artists, who continue to fight to be acknowledged by Hollywood. It's the face of richly diverse Los Angeles. It's a man claimed by all: Anthony Quinn! And, for me, it's also very personal; his son, Francesco Quinn, was a friend of mine."
The conservancy's news conference will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the mural site, 242 S. Broadway.