Is this mural ‘appropriate’?

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The Dallas City Landmark Commission Monday said “yes,” but not before part of it was painted over.

A mural on Maroches Bakery’s west-facing wall was dragged to City Hall this week after a code violation complaint.

The mural, titled “The Energy of Happiness” is the work of local artist Alejandra Camargo, who is from Venezuela. She painted the mural this past October with funding from Coors Light.

Even though Maroches is on the Kings Highway side of West Davis at Clinton, it’s inside the bounds of the Winnetka Heights Historic District. Because of that, a certificate of appropriateness is required to make changes to the look of the building.

Maroches owner Manuel Tellez painted over part of the mural after a committee recommended last week that the mural could stay if the portion closest to the street was painted over. That recommendation was intended for the Landmark Commission’s consideration, but Tellez misunderstood.

“I always like to go by the book,” Tellez told the commission.

He said the artist has agreed to repaint it, however.

The case kicked up a stir on social media after neighbors caught wind of it and started a petition to the Landmark Commission in favor of the mural. At City Hall Monday, the Winnetka Heights Neighborhood Association spoke in favor of the mural, as did several neighbors.

No one argued that the mural should be removed.

The case seemed particularly unfair because there is another mural depicting Marilyn Monroe directly across the street from “The Energy of Happiness,” but that mural is not inside the historic district.

The commission’s job is to enforce the rules of historic and conservation districts, commissioner Michael Amonett of Oak Cliff explained. And since there was a complaint, they had to take up the case.

“I understand that rules are rules, but also the rules often are created without input from people of color,” Oak Cliff-based artist Giovanni Valderas told the commission. “The city of Dallas has a long history of using rules, procedures and policies to intimidate and punish neighborhoods of color in order to usher in new development.”

The commission unanimously voted in favor of the mural, granting a certificate of appropriateness, and they asked for a letter stating that it has artistic value and significance as part of the Latino mural tradition, which has been a part of Dallas culture since the early 1900s.

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