In a Venice alley, a Rip Cronk mural of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison has been holding a defiant stance since 1991. The counterbalance to murals in Latino-centric Eastside, where Our Lady of Guadalupe is a traditional muse, suggests the mythological rock star is a patron saint for the Westside.
"Morning Shot," commonly referred to as "The Morrison Mural," may be excused by some as celebrity-driven adoration from a fan, or street art that must have coincided with the 1991 release of Oliver Stone's "The Doors."
It may have simply been the artist noting a performer who represented the bohemianism of Venice, a refuge for rebellious art and poetry that is now kept up to date with skateboard culture accented with street art.
Located at 18th and Speedway, the mural has been touched up over the years, preserving the nod to the storied 1965 boardwalk meeting between two former UCLA students who founded the Doors, Morrison and filmmaker/keyboardist Ray Manzarek.
It is a sample of Cronk's prolific work, and a message shared by his Venetian mural contemporaries of the time -- it aimed for site-specific iconography that did not stray from historical or regional references.
"The mural should define what culture is in Venice," said Cronk in a 2010 interview with Juxtapoz, an ideology supported with "Portrait of Abbot Kinney," a 2004 work with the founder of Venice, and 1989's "Venice Reconstituted" that sits near the boardwalk carrying the message "History is Myth."
The idea that led to Morrison portrayed as a local came from Cronk's concept to have Venice residents painted along Boardwalk's walls. "This would incorporate multiple images and the space between them into one composition. Another figure in the group, a portrait of a local cop, has already come down." ("Venice Cop," a 9' x 4' piece at Wavecrest Ave, was completed in 1990 and never saved from decaying).
"I do not think that artists 'reflect society.' More accurately I feel they define it. I am interested in 'how fine art functions in society,' said Cronk to Venice Paparazzi in 2011. "I want to play to a common audience. I like my murals to create a common bonding experience for people."
Cronk still invites other artists to pick up on the concept. "There are plenty of walls and counterculture personalities that should be included," he said in the interview.
"Morning Shot" is used as a location identifier for a music video released this week supporting the 40th anniversary edition of "L.A. Woman." The 8 minute title track is trimmed to 3:34, and popping in are Doors drummer John Densmore, guitarist Robby Krieger, along with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman. (Keyboardist Ray Manzarek is not in the shoot, but his name makes an appearance as a street tag). Your tour guides for Doors landmarks including Venice, downtown Los Angeles, and the Hollywood Bowl, are pro skateboarders Kenny Anderson, Alex Olson and Braydon Szafranski.
- See the results of our Venice Mixtape Contest to hear Venice-related songs submitted by our readers
Photos of "Morning Shot" and "Portrait of Abbot Kinney" by Jonathan Alcorn.