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Best Public Art Orange County 2008 - Lemon Street Murals, Fullerton

The murals that decorate the Lemon Street pedestrian overpass (just south of Valencia Drive) won't make you forget Emigdio Vasquez—they're really just simple paintings of a pachuco, a Monte Carlo and similar Chicano-icon bric-a-brac. But they became the focus of a community uprising earlier this year, when city council member Shawn Nelson publicly accused the murals of promoting crime and tried to have them whitewashed within days. Thanks to a concerted effort that mixed MySpace and YouTube blasts with old-fashioned community meetings, the talk is now of restoring these 30-year-old treasures with a five-figure, city-contributed grant. Visit them as a monument to the best that public art offers—controversy, history and general peronismo (as opposed to the Argentine philosophy that allowed Nazis to hang out in Buenos Aires). Now, if we could get LA's Chicano All-Stars to give a damn about the rest of the county's Chicano murals . . .

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