#FreeBritney Mural to Unveil in Orange County

Just days after Jamie Spears agreed to step down from being the conservator for Britney Spears’ estate, an Orange County bar aims to commemorate the pop star’s legal battle with a mural that will be unveiled this week.

Photo by David Lopez

Luke Nero, CEO and Founder of Donkey D’s bar in Costa Mesa, commissioned the giant pink rendering with Britney breaking through the figurative blockage that has been her conservatorship. The wall is 13 feet by 43 feet. Nero has worked closely with Long Beach artist David Gilmore to make the wall a destination location for Britney fans and supporters of the #FreeBritney movement.

In March, Nero and Gilmore teamed up to celebrate country icon Dolly Parton with a mural outside the nearby Strut Bar & Club, after Dolly donated $1 million toward expediting the Moderna vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Both Donkey D’s and Strut will now be two locations with larger-than-life portraits of influential artists that are pillars in the queer community.

Nero shared with Instinct:

As with the Dolly Parton mural, Britney is of the moment. The #FreeBritney movement is validated and I think it’s important we all understand that we as the public are collectively responsible for putting her there. We were all too busy consuming her and not looking out for her. She is the definition of innocence robbed.

Gilmore has worked tirelessly for 6 days a week over the last couple of months ensuring to pay proper homage to Britney’s struggles. He shared that he has learned much about Britney’s plight in and out of the limelight and he has a new found respect for her as an artist and mother who has been denied so many basic human rights.

Artist David Gilmore | Photo by David Lopez
Artist David Gilmore adding the finishing touches on the #FreeBritney mural | Photo by David Lopez

Donkey D’s is seeking support for the completion of the #FreeBritney mural to help offset the cost of materials and labor. Any funds exceeding the fundraising efforts will be donated to the Childhood Cancer Foundation of Southern California, Inc. to honor Spears’ championing of pediatric cancer organizations.

Steven Gonzalez, 30, a lifelong Britney Spears fan and activist in the #FreeBritney movement has shared that Britney’s music has helped him get through life and has helped lift him up and come to terms with his own identity as a queer person.

Courtesy of Steven Gonzalez

Gonzalez shares with Instinct:

I think it was a really significant decision to commemorate Britney as a mural considering her importance and influence in the LGBTQ+ community. Now more than ever it is important to put a spotlight on her conservatorship that has been wrongfully in place for the past 13 years. Something that gives me hope when I see the mural is where it says, “Conservatorship ended date:” because I think that’s a day so many of us fans are praying for in the near future. 

Gonzalez refers to a section of the mural that will remain incomplete until Britney’s conservatorship finally comes to an end. Muralist David Gilmore has included an open-ended stenciling that Britney fans hope will be completed sooner rather than later.

Photo by David Lopez

But a mural alone is not enough to show support for Britney Spears and the challenges that still present themselves.

Gonzalez says:

As a community, I think it’s important to continue to shine a light on Britney’s case because it has been swept under the rug for the past 13 years. The conservatorship needs to remain a topic of discussion in order to bring reform to the probate court system as a whole.  There’s no reason whatsoever why a grown woman who can earn millions of dollars should be placed under a probate conservatorship and not have the right to control her reproductive health, medical treatment, financial assets, and day to day life.

Gonzalez, who has been working with the #FreeBritney movement in support of the ending of her conservatorship, knows that great actions such as the painting of this mural are large strides in bringing visibility to these restricting agreements. Britney Spears’ fans are devout and they will not rest until the justice for the pop star is granted.

Courtesy of Steven Gonzalez

Gonzalez:

As a fan base, we united and began using our platforms on social media, no matter how big or small, trying to raise awareness for Britney and her conservatorship case. At first it felt like nobody was really paying attention but we persisted. Some fans even dug deeper to piece together any possible wrongdoings and financial conflicts of interest that have been happening behind the scenes since the formation of the conservatorship. We’re living in a time where most Britney fans are well into their adulthood, many even being lawyers and mental and civil rights advocates. A pivotal point for the Free Britney movement was June 23, 2021 when Britney personally addressed the court in a bombshell testimony that was heard around the world. In the court hearing, Britney speaks of being forced to go on a tour in 2018, even being threatened with legal action if she didn’t comply.

Photo by David Lopez

Nero and Gilmore hope that while the #FreeBritney mural will be a destination for those who seek to document their support for Britney, they will also begin to understand the complexities that the icon has had to endure.

Donkey D’s is planning an unveiling on Saturday, August 21 where the public will officially be able to see the completed mural. Donkey D’s is located at 820 W 19th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627.

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