América Tropical mural

Getty Conservation Institute conservators working on the América Tropical mural.
© J. Paul Getty Trust.

Mural by Siqueiros opens to the public at the Getty

'América Tropical', the only surviving public mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros in the United States still in its original location, opened to the public on October 9, 2012, 80 years after the mural was first painted by Siqueiros.

October 11, 2012, source: Getty Museum

David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of the great Mexican artists of the 20th century, painted América Tropical in 1932 on the second story exterior wall of the Italian Hall on Olvera Street, in the area of downtown Los Angeles known as El Pueblo.

The mural depicts a Mexican Indian tied to a double cross with an American eagle above him, and revolutionary soldiers—one aiming at the eagle—closing in. Controversial from the start, within a few months the mural was partially whitewashed, and it was completely obscured by whitewash within a decade. The work was virtually forgotten until the 1960s, when the rise of the Chicano mural movement brought a renewed interest in América Tropical and Siqueiros.

Now conserved, the mural boasts a new protective shelter spanning the south wall of the Italian Hall—a canopy with sun shades on each side to protect the mural from direct exposure to sun and rain. A rooftop platform also has been constructed to allow public viewing. The América Tropical Interpretive Center (ATIC), managed by El Pueblo, is located on the ground floor of the historic Sepulveda House and its exhibits explore the history and techniques used to create América Tropical, the conservation process, and the artistic legacy of David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Tim Whalen, director of the Getty Conservation Institute, said, “Providing public access to América Tropical has been central to this project. From the Getty Conservation Institute’s initial involvement in 1988, it has been a persistent advocate for the conservation of the mural, and the construction of the shelter, and a public viewing platform. We are so pleased to bring América Tropical back to the people of Los Angeles.”

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