Tensions over disappearing artwork in one of LAs hottest neighborhoods reflect anxiety over rapid change and soaring property prices
Kathy Gallegos remembers the first time she saw John Zender Estradas striking mural of an Aztec warrior flanked by two eagles. She was parking behind a music venue in Highland Park, a heavily Latino working-class neighborhood northeast of downtown Los Angeles, and couldnt help noticing the bold imagery of a piece that Zender had painted in the wake of the 1992 riots to urge ordinary Angelenos to resist violence with peace.
I remember thinking, thats a really nice mural, Gallegos recalled. Next thing I knew, the place was bought and it was gone.
It was the same pattern a couple of years later, when Gallegos who owns a local gallery promoting Latino and Chicano art stopped to admire a graffiti-strewn parking lot wall on the other side of Figueroa Boulevard, where for years young artists had been given free rein to practice and invent at will. She particularly liked a heart image reminiscent of a veteran LA muralist named Frank Romero and made a note to photograph it.
Next thing I know, she said, the whole wall was whitewashed.