Artists take a stand with George Floyd-inspired murals on Hollywood Boulevard

Murals in Hollywood dedicated to George Floyd has stirred a moment of racial reckoning for the artwork's organizer, who initially had some murals removed.
HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Pop-up art on Hollywood Boulevard has stirred a moment of racial reckoning for the organizer behind the artwork, who initially had some murals removed.

"It was really a huge moment of learning for me," says Georgia Van Cuylenburg, CEO of the non-profit Art Bridging the Gap.

Van Cuylenburg says she had promised business owners, including the Pantages Theatre, that the artwork would be uplifting and non-political, a way of decorating the boarded up buildings.

But with a national movement sparked by the death of George Floyd, two of the artists saw an opportunity to send a message that was strong and provocative.

Muralist Dezcjon Lathrop scripted, "NO MORE CURBSIDE TRIALS AND DEATH SENTENCES."

Artist Marlene Nancy Lopez painted a black fist over a computer screen, a message aimed at her white friends on social media who have been on the sidelines of the protests.

"On the screen it said 'white silence' and on the keyboard it said, 'change,'" says Lopez.

An unexpected change is what happened. Lopez's mural was moved from the front of the Pantages Theatre to a location across the street. Lathrop's was flipped over.

Lopez says she was given a choice to either move the piece or change its focal point. A flower could replace the fist, an option she rejected.

"It is an extremely powerful symbol and it is a symbol of solidarity," she says. "It's a symbol of unity. It's a symbol of change. It is a symbol of hope."

But there would be more changes still. Van Cuylenberg says that after a long talk with Lathrop, who is African American, she realized that he and his message needed to be heard.

"We all know what it's like to feel hurt, but there are deeper levels of this that we don't know and we don't understand. And at points we were both in tears," said Van Cuylenburg.

She later learned that management at the famous theater had no objections to the murals, saying in a statement, "The Pantages fully supports these artists and these messages and has asked that the murals be reinstalled immediately."

Van Cuyenburg says the experience has awakened her.

"So many of us are feeling extremely uncomfortable right now, nervous to do anything, because we don't know what's right. And I think the most important thing is to admit that," she says.

Lopez says her art is always intended to educate and is glad her mural will be reinstalled.

"That is wonderful to hear, that is what art can do," Lopez says. "It can make a difference."
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