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Downtown Street Art Exposes The Bear Within

Deedee Cheriel's roaring bear can be seen at The Standard: Downtown L.A., as the current installation for their ongoing mural project. The pop-modernist tone by Cheriel is appropriately framed by the boutique hotel's mod personality riff on 1960s corporate chic.

The untitled piece, with its simple lines, negative space and bold colors, brings the artist's recurring nature themes within the middle of a redwood forest of skyscapers.

"I see it as an outdoor canvas in an urban setting," said Cheriel, who transplanted herself from the natural environs of Portland to work in film production in Los Angeles. "I wanted to bring a natural environment in a larger piece."

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"The roaring bear came out of the idea of desire," she adds, referring to the Noble Truths stating that suffering arises from attachment to desire. It may be no accident that she was quitting smoking at the time when the bear first came to mind, but the image now transcends beyond that.

Reading more into the bear -- which changes species with each new installment -- it's about killing the roar within, or at least harnessing want and ego with a street art smarty pant-ness. Cheriel's small wheat pastes of a monochrome bear uses the headline "YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED."

In the mural on Sixth street, the bear anchors Native and East Indian temple imagery. "I really like painting large scale. It is super challenging, but really fun," Cheriel said later at the Standard's website. "I also really like how busy the street is, and how so many people came by and talked about my work, like how it affected them and what it meant to them or how they were inspired by it."

Cheriel's work is another in a series of murals on a 40 x 6 wall that replaced a grainy black and white image of California oil baron and philanthropist W.M. Keck, who commissioned Claud Beelman to design his 1955 modernist headquarters for Standard Oil Co. That stoic connection to the building's pedigree has been replaced with revolving murals by artists like Buff Monster, Haze, Gregory Siff, Charles Munka, Noah Butkus and others.

The roaring bear at The Standard: Downtown L.A. is up until May 1, 2012.

The Standard: Downtown LA mural by Deedee Cheriel is on Sixth street between S. Flower and S. Hope I Photos by Melissa Manning courtesy of The Standard

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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