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[Rene Moncada] said it is the end of an era. The dispute arose when a landlord demanded that the artist pay $500 monthly to reserve a wall he has used as a free canvas since the spring of 1980. He had never had any kind of financial arrangement with the building's owner before, said Moncada, who lives with his wife in an apartment on nearby Wooster Street.
Moncada, who prefers the professional name Rene and, if pressed, `Iatba' (for `I am the best artist'), recalled the mural's beginnings. "I made a deal with the owner of the building," he said. "I'd keep it clean, if he allowed me to paint it."
The building, occupied by a pepper packaging outfit, is seeking new tenants, according to commercial neighbors and a sign that hovered near Moncada's work. City records show it is owned by the Food Center Realty Corp., whose officers could not be reached for comment. Repeated calls to the representive who spoke with Moncada were not returned.