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Group Works To Restore Adams Morgan Mural

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"A People Without Murals is a Demuralized People" in its original form lampooned the businessmen who exploited the Latino community.
Ashley Dejean
"A People Without Murals is a Demuralized People" in its original form lampooned the businessmen who exploited the Latino community.

A small but dedicated group of people is working to save a decades-old mural in Adams Morgan.

Through the lines and patches of cement, you can barely make out the image of the vibrant Latino community of 1977 depicted in a billboard-sized mural painted on the side of the Kogibow Bakery.

The splotches covering the artwork called "A People Without Murals is a Demuralized People" are a result of recent construction. Juan Pineda, Quique Aviles and Kristen Barden are all working to restore the mural back to its original state

"The owner of the Kogibow Bakery, Mr. Phung, discovered that there were some pretty severe cracks in the wall that were leading to water getting into the inside of the bakery," said Barden, who works with the Adams Morgan Partnership. "He needed to patch the cracks in the wall and thereby damage the mural."

Repairs ended in late May, but there's still work to be done. It's hard to see the detail of the mural — people dancing, musicians playing instruments and kids running around on the street. But within the joyous scene, is another image, obstructed by cement, portraying what many see as an an ominous foreshadowing.

"It features dirty businessmen playing monopoly with the community," says Pineda. He worked on the first restoration of the mural, in 2005, and he's back again to help out. The greedy businessmen are said to be negotiating housing prices and driving out immigrants with high rent.

Aviles lived in the neighborhood back in the early '80s and spearheaded the last restoration.

"We had a lot more murals in Adams Morgan that depicted the realities and the lives of Latinos, but gentrification did away with those, because they were painted on plywood boards," says Aviles. "Nobody took care of saying 'What do we do with these paintings?' So a lot of that stuff was trashed."

"A People Without Murals" is not only a reminder of that era, but supporters say it's among the oldest murals in the city. And the group is committed to restoring the artwork.

Preliminary estimates put a $10,000-$15,000 pricetag on the effort, and those trying to save the mural are hoping for a grant from the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities, which would require them to find matching funds.

Once funds are secured, the group says it'll take about a month to restore the mural.

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