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LA City Council declares April 20 'Siqueiros Day' after pioneer muralist

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012, at 01:18PM
City of Los Angeles

City Councilman Jose Huizar, center, sponsored the David Alfaro Siqueiros Day proclamation. On his immediate left is Ana Siqueiros, the muralist's' great-grand niece.

Today the LA City Council deemed April 20, Dia de Siqueiros ("Siqueiros Day") -- in honor of David Alfaro Siqueiros, the "father of L.A.'s mural movement," according to a statement from Councilman Jose Huizar's office.

One of Siqueiros most prolific pieces may be his "America Tropical" work on the exterior wall of the Italian Hall near Olvera Street. He began the colorful mural in 1932, but soon after its completion he work was whitewashed due to its political nature.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Siqueiros was commissioned to create something celebrating "tropical America," but instead of exotic birds and lush foliage as many of the L.A. elites may have expected, his finished piece foregrounded an Indian peasant on a crucifix with a an eagle (symbolizing American imperialism) perched on top of him.

In 2010, city officials and representatives from Getty introduced an approximately $9 million project that would create a visitor center adjacent to the mural.

KPCC reported at the time that the purpose of the center, according to Getty conservationists, would be to paint a picture of the "socio-political and cultural background" of L.A. at the time the painting was completed.

Now city officials say a major part of the project's construction will be completed by the fall of this year. The finished product will include a shelter to protect the mural from the sun and rain, a rooftop viewing platform and a visitor center/museum that will highlight the life and art of Siqueiros.

Getty teams have been working on the mural's conservation for the past few years, aiming to stop any future damage to the work but not restoring it to it's original appearance -- meaning they wont be repainting it.

According to the Getty blog, this is an attempt to "preserve the artist’s hand."

“We just don’t know what the colors looked like so, we would be guessing and potentially misrepresenting the artist’s choice of colors and therefore his work,” said Susan MacDonald, head of field projects for the Getty Conservation Institute.

Siqueiros' visitor center is scheduled to open on Oct. 9 in honor of the 80th anniversary of the mural’s first unveiling.

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