MOCA’s Delayed Response to Blu Mural Removal [UPDATE 2]

A detail of the whitewashed Blu mural (via Unurth, image by Casey Caplowe)

The Los Angeles-based Museum of Contemporary Art has emailed their version of why the Blu mural came down to Vandalog, the street art blog:

The Geffen Contemporary building is located on a special, historic site. Directly in front the north wall is the Go For Broke monument, which commemorates the heroic roles of Japanese American soldiers, who served in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, and opposite the wall is the LA Veterans’ Affairs Hospital. The museum’s director explained to Blu that in this context, where MOCA is a guest among this historic Japanese American community, the work was inappropriate.

I find this a little odd but not for the text. I’ve been calling and emailing all day — as has another art blogger who has publicly said so — and there was no answer or response. Then, all of a sudden they produce this? If that was the case then why wasn’t this answer available immediately? The statement does say that the museum director (Jeffrey Deitch) was the one who explained it to the artist, so that is new information, but was it ultimately his decision to take it down? As the man in charge, probably, I can’t imagine he wasn’t involved in the final decision.

Was there a complaint we don’t know about? According to the LA Downtown News there wasn’t, not from the VA or from the National Go For Broke Education Center, both of which are mentioned in the statement.

I personally think that the Japanese American community, many of whom were placed in internment camps during the Second World War by America — and know very well what it means to have a conflicted and complex relationship with America and the military — would’ve understood this mural and learned to love it.

Blu is slated to return to LA and paint another mural for MOCA. Hopefully he won’t pull any punches just because this is take two.

Read the whole email response on Vandalog.

UPDATED: I just received the following message on Saturday morning (NY time) from Blu via email about the incident:

just the pure facts

  1. blu is invited to moca to do a mural
  2. the mural is done
  3. moca decide to erase the mural
  4. moca workers erase the mural the day after

the photos are already public
everyone will find their own conclusions

I honestly don’t know what to make of this.

UPDATE 2: The LA-based street art publication Jetset Graffiti corrected my statement, which I heard from a source and not from the artist, that Blu will return to LA to paint another mural. According to his comment on this post [READ #4 BELOW], that is NOT true:

I originally tipped off LA Downtown News that this was happening. Here’s my commentary and the official MOCA response below. Blu told me that he will not be back to LA before the museum show opens. In fact, he adjusted his schedule to go out of his way to come out here and paint this. It was the only time he had to do this before the show opens. I’m guessing that means he will not accept their invitation and compromise his artistic integrity. Good for Blu to stand up to the museum. I guess they didn’t give him much chance, did they?

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