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Tuesday, Oct 08 2013 06:00 AM

Murals committee: Tehachapi Loop mural must come down

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Large portions of "The Historic Tehachapi Loop," a mural painted in 2002 by John Pugh and Marc Spykerbosch on a building at the corner of Pauley Street and Tehachapi Boulevard, are crumbling from the wall, prompting the city to close off a portion of the sidewalk Wednesday, Aug. 7. City officials are looking into possible ways to repair the artwork, which depicts the famous Tehachapi Loop. Gregory D. Cook / Tehachapi News

The Main Street Tehachapi Murals Committee recently announced its decision to remove the Tehachapi Loop mural from the west side wall of the Tehachapi Lumber Company.

The committee reported it was deemed "too damaged to repair," so after the mural is removed the wall will be painted to match the building.

The decision follows an assessment by professional mural restorer Wayne Winieki, who repaired the Loop mural only a few years ago. He re-examined the crumbling art piece at the beginning of September.

In a news release issued by Charles White on behalf of the Murals Committee -- of which he is the chair -- the committee said, "The action was made necessary due to the deteriorating surface of the original plaster covering the bricks that were used in construction of the building when built in 1906...Several local contractors and [Winieki] have looked at possible methods to restore the mural and no solution was found."

White, who has been elected again to the presidency of the Main Street board, described the decision as "sad" in a phone interview.

"People like these murals," White said. "It does bring tourism."

Phil Darling, vice-president of Main Street Tehachapi, also expressed his disappointment at the mural's fate.

"It's unfortunate the way the wall was built," Darling said.

He confirmed that archival photos of Tehachapi's first mural exist, making the demolition of the mural perhaps slightly less painful.

"From all the information we've been given, we think obliterating the mural is the best decision," Darling said.

Meanwhile, local artist Lyn Bennett has been cleaning and touching up murals around town. And while Winieki was in town, he applied protective coatings to the Centennial, Beekay Theatre and Apple Shed murals, according to the news release.

White said the money for Bennett's work comes from a fund created specifically for mural upkeep.

"Most of the funding we've had for four to five years," he said. "When we painted the murals, we tried to put aside a little money for repairs. For this round [of repairs] we do [have the funds we need]."

White also said he expects similar work on the murals to only be necessary every couple of years.

"These murals are really an asset to the community," White said.

The Murals Committee also devoted funds toward updating the murals brochure, which has been out of date for several years, White said. The new brochure will document the Loop mural's removal information, as well as details on the other murals around town.

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