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The Palo Alto High School student center is no longer sporting the black-and-white brushwork of James Franco.
A mural created by the Disaster Artist filmmaker was painted over at his alma mater last week, the Palo Alto Unified School District confirmed Thursday. Franco graduated from the school in 1996 and returned in 2014 for three days, during which time he painted two murals on the student center and hung over 20 large paintings on campus. While one mural was replaced by student artwork in February 2016 and artwork in the library was removed last summer during a renovation, one mural signed by Franco remained until last week.
“The school site and district appreciated his donation, acknowledging that the artwork was intended to be temporary in nature and would be respectfully returned or painted over at some point,” Palo Alto Unified School District Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Related to this, district staff recently considered the best interests of our students in the light of our educational mission, and decided to remove and return the remaining artwork. The second mural was taken down last week; our Latinos Unidos group is working with the Paly ASB and VAPA Department around the concept for a new mural to be painted. Their idea was to celebrate the rich cultural backgrounds and diversity on our campus.? We are excited that they came up with this idea, and look forward to helping them with the project.”
Other Franco artwork in the school’s media arts center is in the process of being “transitioned” to give opportunity to current students looking to make work in the space, Hendricks added.
Franco’s 2014 artwork at the school was inspired by a 1993 Palto Alto High School yearbook. Pictures of the murals and artwork are still available at the James Franco ARTS UP @ PALY Tumblr page. His representatives have not responded to a request for comment.
“When I was a teenager, it seemed like I felt so much; everything seemed so important and there was so much pressure of all kinds and I was experiencing certain things for the first time. And so, the paintings, for me at least, captured that,” Franco said of his 2014 murals to Palo Alto High’s student paper, The Voice, in 2014.
The school’s principal, Kimberly Diorto, has said she made the decision to take down the mural at the student center. In an article in The Voice about the removal of the mural on Tuesday, she said, “I made the decision we’ll take down the mural on the [student center] because I think that’s the one that’s most visible to the outside community.”
Allegations of sexual misconduct involving Franco first emerged during the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, when several women accused the actor of exploiting young actors doing nude scenes and coercing a young date to perform oral sex on him. On Jan. 11, a Los Angeles Times story included allegations of misconduct from five women, including that he had removed a plastic guard during a simulated oral-sex scene and kicked an actress off the shoot when she refused to go topless for an unscripted scene on one of Franco’s films.
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