Days may be numbered for ‘Finest City’ mural
Artist agrees to having it removed; management considers options
By James Chute 4:45 p.m. June 23, 2014
After 25 years, an iconic part of downtown art may come down. The mural depicting a newspaper in the year 2050 can be found off 6th avenue.
Anybody who has spent any time downtown has likely encountered the iconic mural on the former Arte Building at the corner of C St. and Sixth Ave.
The huge 100 feet by 70 feet artwork, with the letters in the banner outlining the words “America’s Finest City,” has peered over downtown since 1989, when developer Chris Mortenson commissioned it from artists Kathleen King and Paul Naton.
A hand with the pen is filling in the letters in the newspaper’s banner, which is dated 2050.
King, who now lives in Greenville, South Carolina, said she hoped the mural might make it until then.
But the building’s management, Cethron Properties, is considering its removal.
King said she received a letter a few months ago informing her she had 90 days to remove the artwork. Given its size and the expense that would be involved in removal, that proved impossible and she said Monday she signed a release waiving her rights to the mural.
“Even if I could remove it, where would I put it?” said King.
Robert Adatto, Cethron’s owner, said in an email Monday there were serious issues with the mural in terms of deterioration and flaking paint, and that some lead-based paint might be present as well. He said he was still deciding whether or not to take it down.
“Once I make the final decision on how to proceed, and if that decision is (as I’m leaning now), to remove the mural, it’s my intent to publish a notice with at least thirty days’ lead time … regarding that intent,” he said in the email. “That would afford any interested party the time and opportunity to contact me and ‘chime in’ with any concerns or alternatives before any irreversible action is taken.”
King, who was born in Pacific Beach, and Naton, who was her partner in the design firm, Raw Art, spent five months in late 1988 and early 1989 painting the cryptic mural.
“It’s supposed to be any newspaper,” King told the Los Angeles Times in 1989. “It’s saying the future is news. San Diego is writing its own news, its own future.”
King moved to Greenville to work on a public art project for Greenville’s Swamp Rabbit Trail. Several of her public artworks remain in San Diego, including an extensive, high-profile work on the outside of the Golden Hill Recreation Center.
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