Gabriel Villa’s Mural Destroyed

05.15.09

I recently received a disturbing e-mail from the artist Gabriel Villa that began with “The city white washed my mural.” In it Villa explained how the mural he began in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood at Kaplan’s Liquors 960 W 31st St, as a part of Version>09 was destroyed by the city only days before its completion. I had been documenting Villa’s progress (shown above and below) as a part of this year’s festival and I am sadden by the news of its destruction. He was granted permission by the owner of the building to paint the mural and this forces me to ask, what was the real reason for this censorship?

Check out the posting on Chicago Public Radio’s blog that states “Ald. James Balcer (Ward 11) told WBEZ this morning that he called the city’s Streets and Sanitation Department to have it destroyed.” Check out the blog and post your comments on the alderman’s actions!

Read more about this and watch an interview with Villa at NBC Chicago.

Listen to a great interview on Chicago Public Radio.

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3 Responses to “Gabriel Villa’s Mural Destroyed”


  1. Sadly we have to report that one of the artists who participated in Version as part of the Bridgeport WPA project had his mural censored and painted over by local Bridgeport Alderman James Balcer.

    Gabriel Villa had been working on the mural throughout the festival and was shocked to discover that the Graffiti Blasters had painted it brown this past thursday morning when he went to do further work on it. There was no permission granted to paint over the mural by anyone invloved with comissioning or painting it. The Alderman did not contact us or the artist before forcing the Blasters to erase what they even recognized and called (in confidence) public art.

    After being grilled by the press today Alderman Balcer came up with several reasons for doing what he did. One of them being the fact the artist did not have a permit to make the mural. We didnt know you needed a permit to paint art on a garage wall. WBEZ reports that no such law exists.

    We are dismayed that Gabriel had to have his work treated in such a heavy handed manner.

    Please feel free to leave your own comments at the following websites:

    Press coverage is here:

    Alderman Destroys Public Art (with transcription and audio)
    http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=34234

    Alderman says he had this mural destroyed (blog with comments)
    http://apps.wbez.org/blog/?p=3526

    Graffiti Blasters Paint Over Artist’s Commissioned Mural
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30769116/

    and video is located here:

    http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Chicago-Graffiti-Task-Force-Paints-Over-Artists-Commissioned-Mural-Gabriel-Villa.html

    Thanks!

    On behalf of Version et al..
    See you on campus,
    Edmar

  2. John Viramontes Says:

    Right now in an artists’ rights case, the Chicago Park District is battling a case as defendant in a Chicago federal court that made international news in The Art Newspaper as recently as November 2008. The park district is a defendant in a lawsuit for destroying cebebrated painter Chapman Kelley’s public artwork the Chicago Wildflower Works, which was installed in Daley bicentennial Plaza in 1984 and was in place undisturbed for almost 20 years.

    In Chapman Kelley Vs Chicago Park District, Kelley is using the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 as his legal underpinning. The park district mutiliated his artwork without giving him the required 90 day notice.

    It’s not the 1st time the Park District has been challenged for meddling in someones artwork. In 1988 the Park District tried to force Kelley to change his Chicago Wildflower Works and he sued them for it claiming they violated his 1st Amendment right to free speech. They backed down and let the public artwork remain undisturbed for almost 20 years.

    Last week the Kelley Vs CPD action got more attention and is currently featured in the American Association of Museums-affiliated Rights and Reproduction Information Network’s (RARIN) wiki page Community Portal. To learn more, here’s the link to the wiki: http://www.rarin.org/index.php?title=RARIN_Wiki:Community_Portal ,

    So Ald. Balcer is a public official, the Chicago Park District is a public body…is Chicago ready for another artists’ rights federal lawsuit? Will the 2016 International Olympic Committee enjoy reading how Alderman and Alderwomen treat its creative community and visual artists like Gabriel Villa?

    In solidarity,
    John Viramontes

  3. tomas bringas Says:

    hola Gabriel, como estás, veo algunas de tus fotos, y es este de los transformadores el mural del drama?

    saludos.


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