Protection Efforts

by Dan Gutierrez

Back in 2016, after the viral response to the Painted Stairways Tour, and having met Corrine Carrey, and mistakenly thinking she was the designer of #staircandy and #stairtempo (AKA piano keys on the Murray Dr stairway, also designed by Carla O’Brien, but painted incorrectly by Corinne so that it did not match an actual piano keyboard – a story for another time on a possible future page dedicated to #stairtempo), I was aware that Corinne was planning to paint more stairways. As luck would have it, I was doing an after work stair-walk in Silver Lake on a weekday, I think it was a Wed or Thu, Date TBD, climbing the Descanso Dr stairway, and discovered to my pleasant surprise that the step risers were painted in a beautiful pastel green, with green leaf paintings on the landings. Since the mottled afternoon light, looking into the setting sun, was poor for photos, I decided to skip taking photos, and come back on Saturday at 10am when the light would be good for photos. When Saturday rolled around, I went to Descanso, and to my shock, the stairway risers were totally gray-painted over the green I saw a few days prior. All that remained were the green leaves on the landings, which are there to the present day, though faded.

I contacted Corinne, because I suspected she was the painter of the green, and she told me she did it the night before I walked the stairway, but that one of the local residents gray painted over the green. Furthermore, she also told me that someone, but she didn’t give a name, from the Sliver Lake Neighborhood Council (SLNC), threatened her with fines, and also threatened to remove the #staircandy and #stairtempo artwork. This annoyed me for multiple reasons, as the SLNC has no policing authority to fine anyone, and that they were bullying a young woman who I thought at the time was responsible for some fantastic street art. Since for decades prior to 2016, I was a bicycling advocate, and knew about how to use public pressure to get the attention of civic organizations, I decided that the best way to take the heat off Corinne and put it on the SLNC, was to create an on-line petition. Thankfully made this easy for me, so I posted this petition to hopefully get the public behind protecting the #staircandy and #stairtempo artworks. After about a week, and over 200 signatures, and many supportive comments from locals, the president of the SLNC called me told me that the SLNC had no designs on going after Corinne, nor were they wanting to remove the #staircandy and #stairtempo artworks, and asked that I end the petition. At that point I declared victory, having achieved what I set out to accomplish. This was the first ‘unofficial’ effort to protect #staircandy and #stairtempo.

Two years after my petition efforts, in 2018, Genelle Le Vin, President of the Silver Lake Improvement Association, with help from Corinne (Carla O’Brien and Mandon Bossi were back in Australia by this time), worked to have the Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Commission recognize #staircandy (and #stairtempo) as official Public Art Projects. The retroactive approval of these prior artworks came at the 9 January 2019 meeting of the Commission. In the image below, you can see that Carla O’Brien and Mandon Bossi were recognized as artists of these public art projects. The full Commission Meeting minutes can be downloaded here.

Retroactive approval of #staircandy as protected Los Angeles City recognized public art projects – This image was excerpted from a much longer set of meeting minutes.