Removed iconic “Love” mural from 24th and Lake

It was what many at 24th and Lake saw as a symbol of hope, but now the “Love” mural atop the former Preston Love Music Center is gone. It is the very mural that Aaryon Bird Williams created as an artist. “Now that you’ve done this project, you can go out and market yourself. So I started from there,” Williams said. Getting him to become a nationally recognized muralist, he said as he looked away, cut deep. “It was like losing a family member or a child or, you know, it was something that I always referred to no matter where I was around the world, I pull up this picture, I showed this work to people, I was very proud of it,” Williams said. A piece that visual artist Cey Adams created in 2015 with the help of local talent. “It took a whole community of people to put their energy into it, and that energy was still there. And it was a positive energy,” he said. Painting a word on the former Preston Love Jazz and Arts Center, capturing the hope for the future for North Omaha while also paying homage to the past. “This community, the arts, is truly their greatest piece, that you know from Preston’s love up until now, the art is what North Omaha is, North Omaha, that’s what Omaha is,” Williams said. Beyond the red and yellow color, Williams said it’s about making a legacy to preserve. “As a muralist, what you leave behind your murals is one thing and a part of your existence,” he said. In a statement, Deputy Director of Urban Planning William Lukash said, “The iconic ‘Love’ mural had to be removed.” Lukash said, “The building had water damage.” He further said, “The water has attacked the mortar between the bricks where the mural was painted.” If it hadn’t been treated, “it could have compromised the integrity of the wall itself,” Lukash said. Originally built in 1910, it is now the future location of the North Omaha Music and Arts Academy. “Many buildings on our 24th Street are not here for the same reasons the elements could have compromised this building,” said Executive Director Dana Murray. He said Noma doesn’t own the building yet so it’s not their fault, but ultimately the building must be saved. “This is a city property. I think some people think NOMA is already in the building. We’re not really in the building,” Murray said. He admits he could have communicated better why the mural was removed, but said it’s now a blank canvas for the future. “I think it can be fun to open it up to the community to say what ideas you have. And we choose something that best represents the community and the organization,” Murray said. Preparing for the next generation of artists: “Music, art, dance culture. It’s at the core of what most black people are about, just culturally, we grow up with it,” Murray said.

It was what many at 24th and Lake saw as a symbol of hope, but now the “Love” mural atop the former Preston Love Music Center is gone.

It is the very mural that Aaryon Bird Williams created as an artist.

“Now that you’ve done this project, you can go out and market yourself. So I started from there,” Williams said.

Getting him to become a nationally recognized muralist, he said as he looked away, cut deep.

“It was like losing a family member or a child or, you know, it was something that I always referred to no matter where I was around the world, I pull up this picture, I showed this work to people, I was very proud of it,” Williams said.

A piece created in 2015 by visual artist Cey Adams with the help of local talent.

“It took a whole community of people to put their energy into it, and that energy was still there. And it was a positive energy,” he said.

Painting a word on the former Preston Love Jazz and Arts Center, capturing the future hope for North Omaha while paying homage to the past.

“This community, the art, is really the greatest piece you’ve ever known of Preston’s love to date, the art is what North Omaha is, North Omaha, it’s what Omaha is,” Williams said.

Beyond the red and yellow color, Williams said it’s about preserving a legacy.

“As a muralist, what you leave behind your murals is one thing and a part of your existence,” he said.

In a statement, Deputy Director of Urban Planning William Lukash said: “The iconic ‘Love’ mural had to be removed.”

Lukash said, “The building had water damage.” He went on to say, “The water attacked the mortar between the bricks where the mural was painted.”

If it hadn’t been treated, “it could have compromised the integrity of the wall itself,” Lukash said.

Originally built in 1910, it is now the future location of the North Omaha Music and Arts Academy.

“Many buildings on our 24th Street are not here for the same reasons the elements could have compromised this building,” said Executive Director Dana Murray.

He said Noma doesn’t own the building yet so it’s not their fault, but ultimately the building must be saved.

“This is a city property. I think some people think NOMA is already in the building. We’re not really in the building,” Murray said.

He admits he could have communicated better why the mural was removed, but said it’s now a blank canvas for the future.

“I think it can be fun to open it up to the community to say what ideas you have. And we choose something that best represents the community and the organization,” Murray said.

Preparing for the next generation of artists: “Music, art, dance culture. It’s at the core of what most black people are about, just culturally, we grow up with it,” Murray said.

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