LOS ANGELES (CN) – The California Department of Transportation obliterated his city-commissioned mural, “Going to the Olympics,” along the Hollywood Freeway, Frank Romero says in Federal Court. Romero painted the mural in 1984 as part of the Los Angeles Olympic Mural Project.
The city paid 10 local artists $17,000 apiece to create murals along routes leading to the Coliseum, in preparation for the Summer Olympics. Romero’s mural covered more than 2,000 square feet along a Hollywood Freeway retaining wall.
He says CalTrans obliterated his work with gray paint in June 2007. Romero says CalTrans violated California’s Visual Artists Act.
CalTrans claimed that the mural had been “desecrated by graffiti.” But Romero says the city had allocated $1 million for CalTrans to maintain and repair the Olympic Mural Project. He says CalTrans did not use the money for that, but improperly put it into a general fund.
Romero says the Visual Artist Act required the Department to notify muralists about damage to their paintings, so the artists could make repairs. He says the Department failed to do this. Romero says CalTrans “simply destroyed and obliterated the 2,040 square foot mural by painting over it with gray paint, ruining this historical and artistically valuable piece of fine art.”
Romero demands punitive damages. He is represented by Timothy Sottile.