Art lovers angered after school district destroys mural

DOWNEY – Art lovers all over the city were livid Monday after the Downey Unified School District demolished a mural that many were hoping to save.

Crews on Monday ripped down a 25-foot-long mosaic that was fastened to a school building at Downey High School.

The mural, which depicted a viking invasion, faced Brookshire Avenue and had been up since the early 1970s. Several art lovers contacted the district Friday to ask for time to save the piece, but the school district knocked it down the very next business day.

“I can’t believe they did it,” resident George Redfox said. “That’s unbelievable. People are so upset about this.”

The mural was built by renowned Downey artist and art teacher Charlotte Von Troesch and her students.

Von Troesch was a well respected artist who studied in Italy and worked in all kinds of media, including marble, bronze, oil paint and mosaic.

Downey Unified School Board member Martha Sodetani said the issue of saving the mural never came before the board and that she could only speak about the mural as a citizen of Downey.

She was clearly emotional when she talked about the destruction of the piece.

“This would be my own personal opinion, not me speaking as representing the board, but it certainly would have been nice to preserve it,” she said.

From what she had heard, saving the mural would have cost up to $30,000, and she wasn’t sure whether anyone in the city had the cash to pay to move the piece. She also said she didn’t know if the $30,000 was an accurate estimate since she never saw any official figures from contractors.

“I just don’t know what to say,” Sodetani said.

The mural was knocked down as part of a bond-funded school construction project.

Those familiar with the mural were hoping the city could take it down and install it somewhere else in the city, possibly using the art-in-public-places fund, a community beautification kiddie funded by builders.

“I can’t understand why they at least didn’t give us some time to make a plan to take it down,” Redfox said. “Even if they could have just taken a Sawzall up there to see if they could have cut it down, it would have been better than destroying it.”



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