Bartlett was first African American to serve on Monrovia City Council in 1974

By Terry Miller

A casual glance at the memorial for the much loved late former mayor of Monrovia at Station Square would probably not notice that vandals have literally defaced Bob Bartlett’s mosaic portrait.

The top right side (left to the viewing public) of Bartlett’s face has changed and the mosaic tiles removed. The City of Monrovia has attempted to clean up the vandal’s attempt to destroy the memorial which was installed in February 2018.

According to the Monrovia Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), an observer called the police last week after witnessing a man with a machete defacing the mosaic tiles off the Bartlett memorial.

Units from both Monrovia and LASD responded immediately but the suspect had fled the scene before officers arrived. Witnesses gave the police a description of the suspect and surveillance video has proved inconclusive.

This mosaic portrait of Mayor Bartlett is one of five mosaics in “Mayor Bob Bartlett Memorial” and it sits in the center of the sculpture, in the heart of the city. He was the first African American to serve on the council.

The mosaic before it was vandalized. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

Ralph Walker, KGEM host, told Monrovia Weekly, “It’s appalling to see the defacing of the local trailblazer, Bob Bartlett. The mosaic mural is such a fine piece of artwork it has to invoke pain in the artist to know that their work has been vandalized. Art is supposed to invoke a response from those that view it in a positive way.”
Mosaic technique is known as Byzantine indirect. The artist is Carole Choucair Oueijan.

The devastated artist estimates the cost for repairs at approximately $3,500, which she says is mostly the labor involved. Monrovia’s Art in Public Places was expected to approve the repair funds Wednesday evening.

This sculptural mosaic rises from the earth across the plaza at the Monrovia Gold Line station, welcoming and bidding farewell to the travelers who benefit from the fruits of his long-lasting labors each and every day — echoing the intersection between Monrovia’s old and new. The CorTen steel panels pay homage to Bartlett’s ambition for the city’s growth while humbly maintaining its rich cultural history. The angled panels are oriented for viewing from every angle along the station, reflecting Bartlett’s earnest interest for everyone, everywhere in his community.

The suspect is described as a male Hispanic in his 40s, approximately 5-foot-10 and about 180 pounds. He was seen wearing a green jacket and carrying a machete or very large knife.

Anyone with information should call Monrovia PD at (626) 256-8000.

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