Antonio Villaraigosa Jr. has spent enough time watching his father conduct business as both a representative for Council District 14 and now as mayor of Los Angeles to know that any project requiring public takes time to complete.
However, even Villaraigosa might have been surprised by what he witnessed during Monday evening's (ASNC) meeting, when his group's request for a letter of support in their effort to create a mural along the hillside bulkhead on Mount Washington Drive devolved into an hour long debate about policy and procedure.
Villaraigosa, along with friends and fellow artists Zach Christensen and Robert Sipchen narrowly received a letter of support from the council, which will be sent to the city's office of cultural affairs, but not before they heard several arguments from community members who were opposed to their proposed project.
According to Christensen, the mural would be in tribute to Mount Washington resident , who took his own life after suffering for years from schizophrenia.
The work would not only memorialize Rohman's life, but his summer of 2010 effort to create a mural along the same bridge abutment--a project that briefly dazzled and dismayed locals for a few weeks one year ago.
Unlike previously reported on Patch, Christensen said the mural would not replicate last summer's work, but would instead be the product of a shared vision between the artists.
"It would be something that Jack would like," he said.
However, as he heard on Monday evening, the proposed mural may not be something residents of Mount Washington like.
Arguments Against the Mural Project
"The Mount Washington community offers a sense of peace and quiet, and a retreat from the sights and sounds that assault our senses," said Mount Washington resident Ruth Mehringer. "It's a visual intrusion; it's in your face no matter what."
Laurie Schneider, also of Mount Washington, said she "did not understand" the type of art the three muralists were proposing to install.
Arguments in Favor of the Mural Project
The artists weren't without their allies at the meeting, though.
Pat Griffith, of Mount Washington, said it "was a great thrill" to witness the summer of 2010 mural.
"It's a lot nicer than the cinder block bulkhead, which is not a pretty sight and often tagged by graffiti," Griffith said.
Griffith also pointed out that the mural would be created on canvas and adhered to the wall via wheat paste. It would not be created with spray paint.
Warren Christensen, father of Zach Christensen, also spoke in favor of his son's effort.
He said the community's feelings about his son's style of art were beside the point.
"We need to frame this debate in terms of whether or not we want to allow a mural on this wall," he said. "How people feel about the particular style of art is beside the point, as the First Amendment has already weighed in on that."
Procedural Wrangling Among ASNC
Ultimately, the artists earned the votes they needed, but not before the debate broke down into wrangling over council policy and procedures.
Joseph Riser, who represents Hermon on the ASNC, made a point of order motion in an effort to send the request back to the Mount Washington local issues committee, where it was tabled last month after originally being booted there by the ASNC in May.
Update: Patch erroneously reported that Riser represents the community of Hermon on the ASNC. In fact, he is an at-large representative for Education & Youth issues. For a full list of board members and their positions, click here. We regret the error.
"I believe the president [Martha Benedict] erred in putting this on our agenda," Riser said. "If local issues committee tabled it, then it shouldn't be here."
However, ASNC member Mark Legassie, argued that the community in Mount Washington had ample opportunity to speak out against the mural, including the Mount Washington local issues committee meeting in June, a recent recreation, culture and arts committee meeting and Monday evening's full council meeting.
"If the community is so against this, where are they?" Legassie said.
Elizabeth Herron, who sits on the recreation, culture and arts committee, and who is Christensen's mother, abstained from Tuesday's vote on the issue. However, after the meeting she said she would likely wait until after the August 30 meeting of the Mount Washington's local issues committee before sending the letter of support to the Cultural Affairs office, in an effort to gather more community input.
Villaraigosa, meanwhile, was unfazed by Monday's proceedings.
"This was not a huge blow to us. The planning is going to continue. We're still crafting the creative vision for the art," he said. "What we saw tonight was some procedural wrangling."