Sixth Street Bridge murals suddenly covered; defacing graffiti blamed

The bridge at Sixth Street was adorned with multiple murals, most of them part of special artist residencies commissioned by nonprofit StreetArtistInResidence and supported by 1st District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, have now been covered by the city’s Public Works Department.

The decision, according to Jennifer Carey of Public Works, was due to “excessive and continual graffiti” that defaced the murals since they were not shielded with anti-graffiti film.

“This decision was made out of concern from the public and after consulting with the organizer of the artwork,” Carey said. “In conjunction with the organizer, it was agreed that in this area that is prone to graffiti, that it would be best to remove the murals, as they would continue to be defaced and the time and expense to repair the murals would continue to increase. The city typically works with and relies on artists and art organizers to periodically perform maintenance and touch-ups on the murals to keep them in good condition.”

Facing west on Sixth Street, a mural is partially covered after graffiti defaced it, according to the city. Photo by Jose Cordon.

The murals were chosen through an assortment of applications submitted over the course of 2017 from Dreamers, undocumented children and young adults who were granted temporary protection by the Obama Administration after arriving in the US as children. Trump’s eventual overturn of that policy, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, prompted these young artists to create murals that spanned hundreds of feet. The murals included everything from a depiction of Trump as “It the Clown” from Stephen King’s famous novel to Trump as “The Dream Killer” annihilating the poor beneath his omnipotent presence (with a red Nazi band included).

According to Joshua Host, the man who helped head the Los Angeles-area residencies for StreetArtistInResidence, the organization seeks to use street artists as integral political agitators—and that means residencies that can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days with the objective of connecting the L.A. region with international artists. (Think Pow! Wow! gone Capitol Hill.)

“During the residencies, artists stay on-site at the House of Trestles [our San Clemente office] and interact with fellow world travelers,” Host told the Post last year. “During their stay, the residents are given wall space at the House of Trestles for murals that will set the backdrop for their capstone art exhibit at the end of their residency.”

Carey was specific to note that the city is “proud to boast a large outdoor gallery of murals by great local and international artists” and that murals are typically respected in terms of vandalism.

“In this instance, the location may have attracted the graffiti and unfortunately became overwhelming,” Carey said. “The city will continue to work with muralists and organizers when these issues arise.”

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 19 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.