The GCI and its three project partners—El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the El Pueblo Commission, and the El Pueblo Parks Association—are cooperating to complete work on the conservation and presentation of the David Alfaro Siqueiros mural América Tropical, in El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.
Painted in 1932 on the side of the Italian Hall, the controversial mural, which depicts a Mexican Indian crucified in a Mesoamerican landscape, was covered over with white paint after its creation. Though América Tropical deteriorated in the decades that followed, it remains the most important outdoor mural in Los Angeles. The project's goal is to make the painting accessible to the public and to provide visitors with an understanding of its historic context.
The project partners are working together on several fronts. First is the design of a shelter and a viewing platform for the mural. The architectural firm of Pugh+Scarpa is designing a shelter for the mural that will meet three criteria—to protect the mural as much as possible from the elements, to blend in with the surrounding historic district, and to allow the entire mural to be seen from a viewing platform.
The final conservation and cleaning of the mural will occur once the new shelter is in place. América Tropical is stable in its present condition, and it will be padded and boxed during the rooftop construction phase of the project. Following construction, the conservation and cleaning will take approximately three months.
Another part of the project is an interpretative center for the mural. América Tropical is an important monument of both Los Angeles history and the Mexican mural movement. The design firm of IQ Magic has begun work on the didactic materials and on the design of the interpretive center, to be housed in the historic Sepulveda House. Access to the rooftop viewing platform will be through the interpretive center.
Completion of the project will require fund-raising. In addition to the funding that the GCI, the City of Los Angeles, the Friends of Heritage Preservation, and other foundations have committed to the project, an additional $1 million is needed to complete work. A fund-raising campaign began in late 2000 to raise this sum.
The current timetable to which the project partners are committed calls for work to be completed by the spring of 2002, in time for this significant monument of history and art to be made accessible to the public 70 years after its creation.