Iconic mural is one of 2 destroyed at hand of Costa Mesa property owner
Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 16. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter with a look at the latest local news and events.
A direct message that came through the Daily Pilot’s Facebook page on a recent day advised us its author had just discovered two well-known murals that had adorned exterior walls at the RVCA store in Costa Mesa had been “destroyed” — completely whitewashed away — on the orders of someone apparently unaware of their value to the community at large.
Our tipster, local artist Skeith DeWine, said he had been getting ready to paint his own mural in Costa Mesa, also known as the City of the Arts. Now concerned his own one-of-a-kind artwork might be destroyed in the same manner, well, “NO WAY,” he wrote.
“If it’s not the taggers destroying murals, then it’s the business owners. It’s to the point they just aren’t worth doing them anymore,” DeWine wrote.
After we received this message, Daily Pilot reporter Sara Cardine made inquiries about the now invisible murals. The first artwork, untitled, was a collaborative effort created in 2009 by Los Angeles street artists El Mac (Miles MacGregor) and RETNA (Marquis Lewis). Its image, a woman circumscribed by a prayer, had been used by the city to promote the town’s cultural riches.
“The iconic image has appeared in blog posts and marketing materials created by tourism nonprofit Travel Costa Mesa and is featured in the city’s Arts Master Plan and on the cover of the 2022-23 budget,” Cardine explained in her story about the lost murals of 16th Street.
We don’t have the name of the artist or artists behind the second mural, shown above. The spray-painted work of art visible from the street side of the RVCA building had an other-worldly quality about it.
The reporter could not reach a spokesperson for RVCA for her story, but an employee acknowledged to her the works had been painted over earlier this summer. The company was acquired by another entity, Authentic Brands Group, in a deal expected to close this month.
DeWine told Cardine he wondered in the wake of the murals’ destruction whether Costa Mesa has earned the right to call itself a City of the Arts.
“It hasn’t truly demonstrated its commitment to its arts, its artifacts and the overall well-being of its artists,” he said. “In order for artists to put their faith into the city, we need to see their commitment. Otherwise, anything can happen.”
While a city can encourage public works of art, as Costa Mesa does with a certain enthusiasm, it can’t force private enterprises to protect them.
Costa Mesa spokesman Tony Dodero said in an email Thursday the city has little control over what a private enterprise decides to do with murals that have been painted on its own walls.
“We recognize that murals play an integral part in making us the City of the Arts,” city spokesman Tony Dodero wrote Cardine in an email after she inquired about the painted-over artworks. “However, the city was not directly involved with these murals on private property.”
As part of the Arts Master Plan process, city officials worked with consultant Arts Orange County to create an “Art in Public Places” report designed to recommend policies and procedures related to acquiring and displaying such pieces, Cardine reports.
“While it may be tempting for a municipality to regulate the design and content of murals on private property, First Amendment rights of the property owner limit the oversight of mural approval processes to regulations such as the mural lifespan, placement, size, materials and methods, and process of permitting,” the Art in Public Places reads.
The report confirms that artworks on private property are funded by the property owners, not the city. So, the cost of maintaining them — or deciding to paint them over, thereby rendering them lost forever — is clearly out of City Hall’s hands.
• Wildfire mitigation will begin in the Bommer Canyon Preserve this month. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy announced last week the city of Irvine received $1 million from the state budget for the work. The project is expected to include fence installation, mowing and installation of an irrigation system to hasten the “grow and kill” cycles of weed seeds in the soil, according to the conservancy. “Since many visitors recreate at Bommer Canyon Preserve, our team will be reaching out to the community through signage and educational materials to explain the many benefits of the project as it unfolds,” Robert Freese, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy restoration and enhancement program manager, said in the statement.
• A false bomb threat resulted in an abrupt halt to a Sabbath service at a Fullerton synagogue Saturday. The service was at Temple Beth Tikvah, at 1600 N. Acacia Ave. Officials at the temple told police they received a phone call from a man who made antisemitic comments, Fullerton police Capt. Jon Radus told City News Service.
• The Friends of Newport Harbor has filed another lawsuit — the fourth it has filed to date — against Newport Beach and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the planned confined aquatic disposal site in Newport Harbor reported about in this newsletter earlier this summer. The latest suit, reported here by Daily Pilot staffer Lilly Nguyen, alleges that in February the city approved a second memorandum of understanding that it would “fund a bigger CAD than the CAD it had approved in 2021 as well as additional dredging,” though documents from that meeting indicate no additional funding would be approved by the city as the $10 million already promised toward the project would cover additional dredging. The project is on hold, city spokesman John Pope told the reporter.
• A former Orange County basketball coach is facing a maximum sentence of 150 years to life in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting four young girls he coached, ranging in age from 11 to 17 years old. Carlos Francisco Juarez, 48, of Costa Mesa was found guilty of 10 felony counts of committing a lewd act upon a child under 14, seven felony counts of lewd acts upon a child, two counts sexual penetration by foreign object of a minor and one count of oral copulation on a minor under 16 by a jury verdict on July 18, court records indicate.
• Orange County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge alleging he fatally shot his wife, Sheryl, during an argument in their Anaheim Hills home. Ferguson, 72, who was initially jailed on $1 million bail, is free on bond. In court Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ricardo Ocampo approved release conditions including a prohibition on alcohol consumption and a requirement that Ferguson surrender his passport, wear a GPS device and stay within Orange, Riverside or Los Angeles counties. Ferguson was also ordered to avoid places where alcohol is the primary business, and he’s barred from owning any weapons or ammunition.
• Former Chapman University Law School dean John Eastman is one of those listed in a grand jury indictment handed down in Fulton County, Georgia, accusing former President Donald Trump and others of racketeering in an alleged scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Eastman is accused of participating in a scheme to have an alternate slate of electors from Georgia favorable to Trump represent the state in the Electoral College after President Joe Biden won the state.
• Michael Aon Varela, 36, was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole following his July conviction for fatally beating a 68- year-old neighbor during an attempted rape in Garden Grove in September 2017.
• Amer Saleh Alhasan, 33, was convicted Tuesday of killing his girlfriend when he suspected she was pregnant, then dumping her body in a trash bin in Anaheim before trying to flee the country, according to a CNS report of the trial. Alhasan, from Jordan, was convicted of first-degree murder in the Oct. 30, 2018, killing of 38-year-old Tiyanie Sopheap Ly of Santa Ana. Jurors took about 90 minutes to reach a verdict.
• A Santa Ana man died after being shot outside a liquor store at about 1:50 a.m. Sunday in the 2700 block of North Bristol Street, authorities told CNS. The man, Jorge Velazquez, 29, was pronounced dead at the scene, the Santa Ana Police Department reported.
• Santa Ana police officers responding to a Denny’s regarding a man refusing to pay his tab learned he allegedly sexually assaulted a boy in the men’s restroom just before they arrived, according to a CNS report. Raymond Miramontes, 50, was taken into custody about noon Friday at the restaurant on South Bristol Street after falling asleep in a booth, the Santa Ana Police Department stated.
• Hyatt Regency has opened a new beachfront eatery in Huntington Beach, Shor, located just steps from the sand. The casual concession stand had a soft opening a few weeks ago, according to the Daily Pilot story by Matt Szabo, but held its official ribbon-cutting with city officials last Thursday evening.
• Joni Rogers-Kante, founder of the multilevel marketing skin care company SeneGence, sold her Irvine home for $25 million, making it the priciest property ever sold in the city, the L.A. Times reports. Rogers-Kante doubled her money on the sale after buying it from sports radio host Jim Rome for $12.5 million in 2017.
LIFE & LEISURE
• 400 ocean conservationists recently raised $1.5 million at a gala held at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, in support of the international outreach of Oceana, based in Washington, D.C., according to Daily Pilot society columnist B.W. Cook, who wrote about the gathering. Actor Morgan Freeman was the honored guest. Some of the other luminaries at the gathering were Reese Witherspoon, Oscar Nuñez, Ursula Whittaker, Christina Ochoa and Sally Pressman.
• A Corona del Mar Girl Scout learned she’s the winner of a $10,000 scholarship for her work on her Gold Award, GSA’s highest achievement. For her Gold Award project Katelyn Saiki listened to the stories and drew on the lessons she learned from her Cambodian elders to create a nonprofit, Cambodian Revival of Arts, Folklore, and Traditions and published a book, “Khmerical: a collection of Cambodian Folktales.” My colleague Lilly Nguyen interviewed Saiki for this Daily Pilot feature story.
• Bowers Museum announced the appointment of Seán O’Harrow as its new president and chief executive officer earlier this month. O’Harrow, who has more than 15 years of experience in leading museums, follows the tenure of the late Peter C. Keller. According to a Daily Pilot/TimesOC story on the announcement, O’Harrow credits his early education in his hometown of Honolulu with fostering an early love for the arts. He earned an art history degree at Harvard University and his PhD in History of Art & Architecture from Cambridge University. Museum officials also announced a generous donation of $1 million to Bowers from the Mary and John Tu Foundation.
• 25-year-old Lillia Vu, from Fountain Valley, won the Women’s British Open to claim her second major title of 2023. Vu, a former UCLA All-American, shot five-under-par 67 for a six-stroke victory Sunday. She also won the Chevron Championship in April, becoming the first female player to win two majors in the same year since Jin Young Ko in 2019, and the first American woman since Juli Inkster in 1999.
• The Chargers will hold a joint practice tomorrow with the New Orleans Saints in Costa Mesa, and veteran cornerback J.C. Jackson, who has been working his way back from a ruptured patellar tendon that ended his 2022 season, said he hopes to participate in it. L.A. Times sportswriter Jeff Miller interviewed Jackson, who told him, “I can’t wait to see where I’m at. I get to compete against another team. It’s going to be fun. … I can’t wait till they get here.”
• Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani will skip his next scheduled pitching start today at Texas after telling manager Phil Nevin he was feeling some arm fatigue. Nevin said Sunday that Ohtani is not injured and will return to the rotation during a series at home against the Cincinnati Reds that begins Aug. 21.
• Eighty Edison High School football players were scheduled to leave Huntington Beach last Thursday to embark on a nine-day trip to Maui that was canceled due to the devastating fires on that Hawaiian island. The team had planned to play against Wailuku Baldwin over the weekend and against Lahainalulu this Friday. “Our hearts go out to the people of Maui,” Edison’s athletic director Rich Boyce said. “Football at Edison will go on. We’ll find games.”
• The Orange County Blues Festival is coming up. Stages Bar, 604 E. Dyer Road, Santa Ana hosts the festival, which is set for 3 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27. General admission is $35; tickets can be purchased here.
• The 28th annual PlumFest at the Old World Village Biergarten takes place this Sunday, Aug. 20. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; PlumFest (expect to see pflaumenkuchen, plum cake, plum crepes and plum-infused beverages) is set for noon to 6 p.m.; German folk music will be played from 1 to 5 p.m. Old World Village is located at 7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach.
KEEP IN TOUCH
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