Whitewash at MOCA: Downtown News Breaks Story Waiting to Go National

It (absurdly) hasn’t gone national yet, but the Downtown News’ Ryan Vaillancourt broke a story late last week that you should be hearing more about soon.

It seems that in advance of an upcoming street art show, MOCA commissioned Italian artist Blu to create a giant mural on the wall of MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary. The artist complied, producing a mural depicting coffins draped in dollar bills. But only a short while after finishing the piece, the museum inexplicably decided to whitewash the work.

More from the Downtown News:

A MOCA spokeswoman would not comment on the whitewashing, but the piece may have struck a delicate nerve center that sits just steps from the wall. The piece faces the Veterans Administration healthcare building on Temple Street. The dollar bills draped on Blu’s caskets seem to be an overt replacement of the customary American flags that cover the coffins of soldiers killed in wartime.

Here’s the craziest part though. No one actually complained to MOCA about the mural. The museum apparently whitewashed it on their own. Way to stand up for artistic expression.

A representative for the Veterans Administration said that management at the facility was aware of the mural, but did not complain to MOCA. The mural is also just steps from the Go For Broke Monument, a memorial to Japanese Americans who fought in World War II. A spokeswoman for the National Go For Broke Education Center said that some of the veterans found the mural “in bad taste,” but the organization did not complain to MOCA either.

The artist, who did not immediately respond to an email, was on the scene as a crew began to paint over the work, and he was not pleased, said Daniel Lahoda, a street art advocate who curates the L.A. Freewalls Project and was in Little Tokyo to document the whitewashing.

“He was here this morning, taking pictures,” Lahoda said. “He was [angry].”

Gary Leonard was there to photograph the whitewashing. Plenty of shots on the Downtown News’ site.