April 14 2015 07:03 PM

The iconic Tijuana statue gets a colorful makeover, but not for long.

Armando Munoz in front of “La Mona.”
Photo by Seth Combs

Armando Muñoz Garcia has always had a reputation for doing what he wants. Back in 1987, Garcia, then an eager art student, approached the city of Tijuana about building a statue of a giant nude woman to commemorate the city's centenary. The city declined his request. He built the woman anyway. 

The 53-foot, concrete "Tijuana III Millennium" statue in the city's Colonia Aeropuerto district has now stood for almost 25 years. More commonly known as "La Mona" (colloquial Spanish for "the doll"), the statue was once Garcia's house (a bedroom in the breast, a kitchen in the stomach and a bathroom in the, ahem, butt), but he has since moved out and upkeep on La Mona has become more and more infrequent.

"A lot has to be repaired," says Garcia, as he looks down at the crumbling feet of his creation and then up to her arms. 

"Her left hand has to be in place, too, and that dove won't be there," he adds, pointing to a pigeon perched on a scaffold near La Mona's left hand.

Still, the statue has gotten a lot more attention lately. Garcia allowed seven female students to adorn La Mona in a giant pink dress (to promote breast-cancer awareness). Shortly after, he agreed to let a multinational contingent of urban artists, 11 in all, paint the statue. It was the first time it had ever been painted, and Garcia says it created some newfound interest with people who'd never seen the statue before.

"A lot more people are coming now to take their photos," he says.

Still, he points out that, just as with La Mona's pink dress, the street-art-style paint job won't last much longer. March 22 was the last official day that La Mona was to keep her paint job, and Garcia plans to slowly sand her down and repaint her white over the next few months in preparation for the statue's 25th anniversary.

"I'm going to meet this lady in the city cultural department, because we are making a program to celebrate the anniversary," Garcia says. "We are going to make an art-and-cultural event, but, by then, this has to be white again. We don't know what day yet, but we know for sure it's going to be the last week of July."

Garcia says he's open to having La Mona painted again in the future.

"What I'm going to do is use a good quality white paint to let some other guys paint it in the future with something like that," he says, pointing to La Mona's current paint job. "That white paint will allow me to erase that kind of work easily. That's the plan."

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