The sentiment surrounding the Foster the People mural downtown quickly evolved from somber to celebratory as Mayor Eric Garcetti decided to keep it up rather than tear it down — all thanks to a Change.org petition that acquired almost 12,000 signatures.
Instead of hosting an event to “talk about art, music and community” during the removal of the mural, Foster the People encouraged fans on Monday to come to the 125-by-150-foot mural, located at 539 S. Los Angeles St., to meet the band members and have their thoughts on the mural filmed. The first 500 fans received posters of the album cover/mural that the band members then signed.
Two touring band members, including Sean Cimino, made an appearance around midday. In regards to the mural unexpectedly staying up, Jacob “Cubbie” Fink — one of the three main members, who plays bass and does backing vocals — was elated.
“I’m overjoyed,” said Fink. “I mean, our fans are really amazing to step up and save a piece of art that we intended to be here for a long time. So yeah, I‘m just very grateful.”
Fink, along with the other band members, thanked fans one by one as they greeted them. He admits that the mural wouldn’t be there without the fans. “The plan was for it to get painted over today and our fans started a petition,” he says. “I was [shocked that it’s still here]. It’s just kind of proof, again, how amazing our fans are that they would take the initiative to do something like this. It’s really awesome. And they’ve been heard. Their voices have been heard.”
Looking around, there were throngs of eager fans, mostly teenage girls. They were alone or in groups, many clutching posters and all very excited to meet members of a band they love. Some were with friends and others were accompanied by their parents. One of the fans, upon meeting Sean Cimino, began to cry. As she hugged him, she said it was the “best moment of her life.”
It was obvious that the fanbase was a very devoted one. Fans who had signed the petition arrived to meet the band in the morning, hours before any of its members arrived.
“I’ve been a Foster the People fan since they came out with their first album two years ago,” says Jennifer Zeledon, 15, a student at Colony High School. “I feel good to have signed the petition because it gives L.A. more art and makes it prettier.”
Zeledon says that she does not feel that the mural is an advertisement because of its similarity to the band’s album cover, and that people who do not know about the band or the album would think it was just normal street art.
Alexis Hernandez, 20, a student at Otis College of Art and Design, has been a fan since the band’s first album was released. She found out about the petition via social media, specifically Twitter and Instagram. “I’m so glad [Johanna Maria] created the petition. Without her, I’m pretty sure they would have painted over that mural,” she says.
Hernandez views the mural as freedom of expression. “If you read the text on the mural, it says that the money… all the gold… [the model] throws it all up. She throws away all the money and fortune. It’s about the working class and how we work our way through life,” she explains.
Fink also suggests that the mural has a positive message from which people can benefit. “The mural was put here for people to interpret it on their own,” says Fink. “It really stands as a reminder of our consumption and what we’re consuming, and to mindful of it. And just be mindful to what consumption can lead to.”
The text on the mural features a poem that front man Mark Foster wrote upon hearing the entire album. It reads:
I ate it all / plastic, diamonds and sugar-coated arsenic / We danced in honey and sea-salt sprinkled laxative / Coral blossomed portraits in Rembrandt light / Cheekbones high and fashionable / Snap! goes the moment / A photograph is time travel / like the light of dead stars painting us with their warm, titanic blood / Parasitic kaleidoscopes and psychotropic glow worms stop me dead in my tracks / Aphids sucking the red off a rose / but for beauty I will gladly feed my life / into the mouths of rainbows / Their technicolor teeth cutting prisms and smiling benevolently / on the pallid hue of the / working class hero.
Another fan, Diana Fleak, 16, at Chapparl High School says she has been a fan of Foster the People since they released their first single, “Pumped Up Kicks.” She went to a concert at the mural in January, which she says was free. Fleak agrees that the mural has a positive message.
“I just really love it,” Fleak says. “It brightens the whole street up. It’s important to preserve art in our communities.”
“Coming of Age,” the new single from “Supermodel,” concludes with lines about living without regrets: “I’m always moving forward and not looking back, but I tend to leave a trail of dead while moving ahead / And so I’m stepping away, ’cause I’ve got nothing to say.”
The song and album depict Foster’s state of reflection after a huge amount of success and a two-year tour during the band’s first album, “Torches.”
All three fans were aware of the album’s message, having listened to it and read information about it online. They all felt that it was art rather than advertisement and all agreed that the mural would not be there without the massive support of the fans. Hernandez and Zeledon say they are very appreciative of Johanna Maria, the creator of the online petition. At the end of the day, they believe the mural delivers a positive message to those who view it.
“The mural is amazing,” says Hernandez. “It’s gives more freedom for art and the people who do artwork. I feel like what keeps us all together in L.A. is the artwork. It gives art students and people who want to do art, and especially [Foster the People’s] fans, more freedom to do anything they want.”
Originally written for Neon Tommy: CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY.