Los Angeles is a city with lots of great murals but The Pope of Broadway is my absolute favorite. Located on the side of the Victor Clothing Building in Downtown Los Angeles, it faces 3rd Street across from the iconic Bradbury Building. It’s five stories tall and – if you’re facing the right way – pretty hard to miss.
It depicts Anthony Quinn, an Academy-award winning actor who was born in Mexico and grew up in East LA. His real name was Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca and his story as a Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles continues to resonate with the Latino community today. Ironically, he is best known for his role in the 1964 film ‘Zorba the Greek’, for which he won an Oscar nomination. The mural calls to mind Quinn doing the sirtaki, a folk dance which featured in the film (and at Greek tavernas ever since).
Over the years, I was sad to see the on-going deterioration of this wonderful artwork which had been baking in the Southern California sun since in 1985. The paint was faded, even peeling in places, and there had been a considerable amount of graffiti damage.
To my delight, the Mural Conservancy stepped in and Eloy Torrez, the original artist, restored the mural in 2016. The colors are bright and crisp and it now has an anti-graffiti coating to protect it against vandalism. Anthony Quinn continues to do his Zorba dance in this corner of the city, helping to connect its Latino past with its gentrified future.