Although Los Angeles may be best known for such attributes as perpetual sunshine, gridlocked traffic, and the tip-tap of finger strokes of people typing on Final Draft looking to hit it big in Hollywood, the City of Angels is also a welcoming palette for a diverse set of international artists looking to make their marks. But the road to creating an atmosphere that welcomes large-scale artwork hasn’t always been as smooth as a Botox-injected forehead either.
In 2003, the Los Angeles City Council enacted a “mural moratorium” in an attempt to regulate commercial billboards in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes. Although their main targets were everyone from film studios to Nike, ultimately it was your average artist looking for real estate to paint that suffered from the ruling.
By 2013, the moratorium ended and artists and property owners were free to decorate various properties as they saw fit.
If you’re ever in Los Angeles and looking for an alternative tourist endeavor to riding around on a red, double decker bus that supposedly takes you to star’s homes, check out these 10 murals that span the city.
Where: Hyde Sunset
Address: 8117 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
Australian married couple DABS MYLA certainly had a newsworthy 2015. In addition to designing the set for the MTV Movie Awards, they also completely reimagined the Modernica furniture factory in Vernon, California – transforming both the exterior and interior of the space into a whimsical and immersive experience that made attendees all feel like they were Alice and had fallen down the rabbit hole.
Aesthetically, their work is colorful and features such repeating themes as busy little forest creatures, flowers, and even character versions of themselves.
RETNA, Shepard Fairey & Kenny Scharf
Where: West Hollywood Library
Address: 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood
When the West Hollywood Library opened in October of 2011, then MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch – who was in large part responsible for ushering Art in the Streets to the masses in the summer – thought that the new structure would be a logical extension of the museum show.
Enlisting notables Shepard Fairey, RETNA and Kenny Scharf, the mural itself features a peace dove next to an elephant, RETNA’s signature calligraphy, and a colorful explosion of cartoon-like characters from Scharf.
Where: Smashbox Studios
Address: 8549 Higuera St., Culver City
Let’s face it, a lot of street art these days is used by Instagram-enthusiasts who are looking to add a unique backdrop to a mundane selfie.
New York-based artist Curtis Kulig’s Love Wall in Culver City would certainly be one of the most prominent. Racked even referred to it in a piece about “‘grammable gold.”
While the very nature of street art itself is quite temporary, the Love Wall got an update just before Valentines Day in 2015 in which the lettering and backdrop colors were reversed.
El Mac & RETNA
Where: Graphaids Art Supply Store
Address: 3030 La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles
Take one spin through town, and chances are that your eyes will immediately latch onto the vivid imagery that makes up an El Mac and RETNA collaboration which pairs the formers representational figures or portraits of people of varying degrees of importance with Retna’s typography and designs.
In speaking about Of Our Youth on the exterior of Graphaids Art Supply Store, El Mac said, “This mural was inspired by the time we spent in Skid Row painting our previous mural together. The figure is based on a photograph we took there of a man named Ralph, or Chato, who had some inspirational words for us on the theme of redemption. The text to the left was a quote from our conversation, and reads, ‘So today I’m trying to change a few things to rectify the situation of my past. So today I’m looking towards the future (of our youth highlighted).'”
Hueman & Risk
Where: US Wholesale Outlet
Address: 103 E. Third St., Los Angeles
When you see a mural by Allison “Hueman” Tornenos, chances are you will immediately recognize it as her work thanks to her tireless effort to create a style that she calls, “sexy, spiritual and generous.”
In 2014, she teamed up with veteran graffiti writer, Risk, for a large-scale piece that inevitably resulted in her being named one of LA Weekly‘s “People of the Year.”
Where: The Container Yard
Address: 800 E. Fourth St., Los Angeles
Channeling the sensibilities of Roy Lichtenstein, Tristan Eaton’s colorful work spans the globe – from Los Angeles to Guam, and Detroit to Berlin.
Peace by Piece is Eaton’s own take on gun violence and gun control in the United States whose staggering firearm statistics illuminated that more than 1,300 people were killed with guns in the United States in 2015 when the mural was created.
Where: Fabric Planet
Address: 423 Rose Ave., Venice
Canadian artist Aaron Li-Hill painted a 44×20 companion piece alongside Fabric Planet to coincide with the unveiling of his art show at C.A.V.E. Gallery in Venice.
Appearing like animalistic apparitions as opposed to other muralists who favor bold colors in their work, Li-Hill plays with the negative, white space as well as anyone in the medium.
Where: The Line Hotel
Address: 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
The Line Hotel is not only one of the preferred locales for creatives coming into Los Angeles for work/pleasure, but for muralists as well.
Boasting notable works from both Shepard Fairey and London artist, D*Face – who credits past luminaries like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring for all having profound impacts on his own work – Look Into My Eyes certainly captures the spirit of each artist.
As the artist so eloquently puts it, “I always find it useful to paint something bashy on the side of places I stay, it helps me find them when I’m aimlessly wondering home blind drunk.”
Where: Downtown Los Angeles Arts District
Address: Jesse Street & Imperial Avenue
Belgian artist, ROA, is known for introducing large-scale, monochromatic, non-native animals into sprawling urban landscapes.
His 15×35 A Bear in LA was part of a four-mural series that saw him painting a bear, skeleton, badger and possum.
Saber & Zes
Where: Artist & Craftsman Supply
Address: 1917, 1921 E. Seventh St., Los Angeles
MSK veterans Saber and Zes came together for a critique on the vaunted “buff” which every artist encounters at some point in their career regardless if they’re operating in a lawless manner or have permission from a property owner to paint something on the exterior.
“This particular style is an homage to this visual conflict that we see everyday on our city’s walls,” Saber said. “Usually these tools are used for bombing so the idea that we kept in mind was that there are no mistakes. Any mark made on the wall only adds to the layers creating the tension between tagging, color and the beige of buff. Our goal was to capture samples of this conflict that takes place in the urban environment between tagging, handstyles and the relentless buff. Eventually the buffing took on a life of it’s own, almost turning into clouds that were weaving in and out of the scrawls.”
- featured/main image: chickenspeak.com