The Pope of Broadway

Historical Background

Eloy Torrez, 1984. 70'h x 55'w. 242 S. Broadway.
There are no equestrian statues in downtown memorializing important generals, but there is an equestrian mural memorializing the memory of Paul Harter, the former owner of Victor Clothing. He awarded a $13,000 commission to Frank Romero for a mural portraying a small Mexican boy he saw joyously riding a horse. After Harter approved Romero's design of a nude boy riding a saddleless horse in the light of a full moon, Romero contacted CHT, a sign company, to execute the mural. Though Romero chose an oil paint that he hoped would last,1 the mural is now faded and the paint is chipped.

Romero has often incorporated equestrian imagery in his work as a symbol of strength and mystery. In this mural he intensified its meaning with rich colors by enlarging the size and scale of the powerful figures. The advertisement for Victor Clothing, which Harter required, fills about one-third of the wall and recalls the neon sign used by the store during the 1940s.

Although the entire sign for Victor Clothing can be seen from the street, store frontage along Broadway and Third Street block a complete view of the mural. The entire mural can only be seen from office suites in the nearby Bradbury Building. From here the sign and mural are seen as two equal entities.

Footnotes:

1. Interview of Frank Romero by Michael Several, July 10, 1985.


The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, February 1999.

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