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Public art in LA hard to find, but not rare Comment on this post ↓
October 13th, 2013 by Warren Swil

Renaissance expected after

city lifts long ban on murals

Designed and painted by artist Richard Wyatt, the Capitol Records Building’s Jazz Mural has been an aesthetic icon in Hollywood since 1990. Click image to enlarge.

AS ONE OF the creative capitals of the world, Los Angeles (home to Hollywood) should have a visual feast of public art of all genres.
But, perhaps because it lacks a center of gravity like most other modern arts capitals, public art is hard to find except in a few notable locations like world-famous Venice Beach.
Aficionados are expecting something of a renaissance now the City Council has lifted a long-running ban on murals.


IMAGINE, THEREFORE, MY delight, when discovering there is actually a veritable smorgasbord of art – from crude to rude and inspiring to insipid – scattered all over the ethnic enclaves of the inner city.

“N. Mission Rd. Mural” is the way this is listed in Mural Locator. It is in Lincoln Park, in East L.A. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.

In a three-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard (made famous by so many Hollywood references) and also east of downtown, examples abound.
The issue was in the spotlight recently during public discussion of the ban on murals that centered around Los Angeles City Hall.
In Los Angeles moves to lift decade-old ban on public murals Catherine Saillant of the Los Angeles Times reported in August: “Artists predicted a renaissance of public muraling across Los Angeles as the City Council voted 13-2 … to lift a decade-long ban on the large outdoor artworks.”

Siquica Sara faces the parking lot at 1547 Sunset Blvd. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.

The ban was lifted after years of hearings on a new regulatory scheme for murals.
“The new rules … will permit new murals in business and industrial zones, as long as artists register them with the city and pay a $60 application fee. The works cannot contain a commercial message and must remain up for at least two years, as part of the city effort to control advertising,” Saillant reported.
Hundreds of cities across the globe have long encouraged public artistic expression, as you can see at Mural locator on the web.
But, if you go into the section for Los Angeles you won’t find a huge collection.
The one exception is Venice Beach, and you can see much of the most prominent works at Venice Art walls.
“The Venice Art Walls are on the sand in Venice Beach. Since 2007 artists with a valid permit are invited to express themselves and paint on the walls.”
Of course that means the offerings are limited to those willing and able to obtain a permit. Do you think Banksy ever would have gotten one?

Part of “Mountain of Dreams” by Theresa Powers at 3400 Sunset Boulevard. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.

ON MY VOYAGE OF EXPLORATION of public art in the city, I began with a suggestion from Mural Locator.
The first one (above) was really hard to find – off the road, a hundred yards from the parking lot, buried deep inside Lincoln Park in East L.A.
It doesn’t even have a name – “N. Mission Rd. Mural” is how it’s listed – and the location provided is very approximate, indeed.
Well worth the effort, though.
Just a few blocks away, alas, to my astonishment, “Combined Forces” (listed in 2012) was gone. Replaced by the a different mural tagged with graffiti on the side of the Eastland Market.

Flores Recycling is at 2517 Sunset Boulevard. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.

About three miles to the west, I picked up Sunset Boulevard and the real feast began: mostly uncatalogued, unnamed and by anonymous artists.
The first featured here was at 1547 Sunset is Siquica Sara, also facing a parking lot. Can you guess what service she is advertising?
Flores Recycling is at 2517 Sunset – comic book style, for sure.
Then, for perhaps 50 yards along the wall of Micheltorena Elementary School at 3400 Sunset is the 1996 work “Mountain of Dreams” by Theresa Powers (this one IS catalogued at Public art in public places project).

“Danger Bird” on the corner wall at 3801 Sunset Blvd. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc.

Four blocks west is Danger Bird (my name, its name) on the corner wall at 3801 Sunset.
Much further west, the last is perhaps the most famous mural in all of Los Angeles: “You are the star” by Thomas Suriya is on Wilcox Avenue at Hollywood Boulevard
See if you can name some of the famous stars of yester-year in the front row. And whom do you think is the couple dancing wildly in the aisles?
Well, I decided to take the name literally, placing myself into the image.
“Never be the star of your own show,” are words to live by. Forgive me.

“You are the star” by Thomas Suriya is on Wilcox Avenue at Hollywood Boulevard.

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