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D.C. has been losing murals due to development lately (R.I.P., mustachioed guy at 14th and Florida NW) but one of the city’s oldest and best loved murals will get a facelift beginning this week. Local artist Juan Pineda will restore the piece titled “Un pueblo sin murales es un pueblo desmuralizado” (“A people without murals are a demuralized people.”) located on Adams Mill Road NW.
Originally designed and executed in the mid-1970s by brothers Caco and Renato Salazar, the mural pays tribute to Latin American immigrants who came to the D.C. area after fleeing unrest in their home countries. Many settled in and near Adams Morgan and were eager to contribute to the community art project. Over the years, the mural became a source of neighborhood pride, according to Adams Morgan Partnership BID director Kristen Barden. And in 2005, three decades after the mural was completed, the community came together to restore to its original splendor.
But then came the 2011 earthquake, which rattled residents and cracked buildings, including the wall on which the mural was painted. Mahn Phung, the owner of Kogibow Bakery, had to repair structural damage externally after water began leaking into the building, resulting in damage to the mural.
Now, the BID, Kogibow Bakery, and a variety of other community partners (outgoing Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, the DC Arts Center, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, local performer Quique Aviles) have come together to raise funds for the mural’s restoration. For Juan Pineda, the struggle to keep the mural intact speaks to the message of the work. “The mural is made up of messages depicting struggle,” he says. “It’s important artistically, but culturally and historically as well.”
Photos courtesy of Kristen Barden