Mural Restoration Begins

SPARC will honor original integrity of desecrated Venice POW/MIA memorial

Vandalized by taggers last year and defaced once again in March, the Venice POW/MIA mural on Pacific Avenue will soon be restored to its original state, community leaders announced Wednesday.

The Venice Chamber of Commerce is funding the effort by mural experts with the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) through community donations.

“Supporting this effort was an easy call for the chamber to make,” chamber President George Francisco said of the fundraising effort, which has collected about $30,000 of its $40,000 goal.

SPARC Executive Director Judy Baca gives the project a timeline of less than three months, including the application of a clear chemical coating that will protect the mural from future vandalism.

Following last year’s vandalism, an amateur volunteer effort to remove the graffiti also erased several of the 2,273 names painted 25 years ago by late artist Peter Stewart, himself a Vietnam veteran.

Les Himes, a retired Venice business owner who helped Stewart through the city permitting process, was able to provide original photos to guide an exact restoration.

“To many of the people
in this group, these are not just names,” he said. “These are stories that were never fully told.”

Even after the restoration is complete, SPARC’s work will continue in order to make sure the memorial outlives the concrete wall it is painted on. That wall is expected to come down when the Metro property it sits on is redeveloped, so the restoration process includes creating a digital copy of the mural to guide its future re-creation elsewhere.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Junior Vice Commander B.J. Lawrence commented that restoring the wall is about not only righting a wrong, but also sending a message.

“We owe it to our veterans to speak out against these senseless acts of vandalism,” he said.

— Gary Walker and Joe Piasecki


LAX to Discuss Fate of Northside Plan’s 340 Acres

Los Angeles World Airports officials are hosting a town hall meeting and Q&A session next Thursday about new development and park space slated for the 340 acres of undeveloped land along Westchester Parkway that separates LAX  from homes south of Manchester Avenue.

The LAX Northside Plan Update ponders 47,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving shops and restaurants between the Westchester Golf Course and South Sepulveda Boulevard, 175,000 square feet dedicated for civic use, and about a million square feet of low-density educational or creative office space. The airport is keeping 600,000 square feet for its operations, including a new airport police facility.

There’s also about 50 acres of green space, with potential for new youth sports fields, a dog park, a walking path that connects to the beach, and open space that would support an underground storm water collection and treatment.

The April 13 meeting is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in The Forum at Otis College of Art and Design, 9045 Lincoln Boulevard, Westchester. Call (424) 646-7450 or visit facebook.com/LAXCommunityRelations for a link to RSVP by Sunday, April 9.

— Gary Walker