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Angel's Wings Roam The Streets of Los Angeles

The city's name is now a vision in street art.

Artist Colette Miller's simple and elegant idea to install Angel wings flowing with color on the facades of Los Angeles has taken off. Painted at home, they are installed as wheat-pastes, giving them texture that shows fearlessness against a backdrop of grit.

Miller's first pair appeared in the Arts District, next to Art Share near Joel Bloom Square, at first seemingly timed for Bloomfest 2012.

"They were painted before Bloomfest," said Miller, who thought of the idea while driving a few months before the street fair July weekend date. "I had the opportunity to tag one day, with the downtown crowd playing lookout."

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The Small Latina Angel I MillerThe wings took off. During Bloomfest, people began to use their cameras to capture friends flying or floating, making the wings a street photography prompt. "I made them big enough for humans to interact with," said Miller. "But I was surprised at how everyone got that on their own without being told. It was psychic."

Rolo Castillo, an artist who once lived in the neighborhood, helped the move the idea along with a donated moment. "When he saw that the wings were a bit high for the little ones, he placed a portable step he had in his trailer in front of the wings for the children," said Miller.

More wings sprouted forth. The following month, the Arts District's Urth Caffé had a set. Next was an installation at Autumn Lights, where the line to take a photo with the Pershing Square Wings lasted all night.

Member of Koyale Wings Miller in Kenya I MIller

Then they went global. In October and November, Miller traveled to Kenya to film a documentary on corruption. Wings were installed in nearby slums, she said. "The children in Africa also got it right away. The boxing team of Koyale, Nairobi, named their team after the wings and me."

What is known in Kenya as "Koyale Wings Miller," even though Miller titled the project "Wings of Enlightenment," Angelenos have been calling them just "Angel Wings."

"It is in, and coming from, the city of Angels," said Miller. "So I roll with that."

Joe the Art Walk Angel I MillerThe series was a healthy and meditative project for Los Angeles wall space that was "waiting for some love energy," said Miller said. The Arts District, Urth Caffé, and Pershing Square were joined by the Downtown Art Walk on February 14, giving Main Street its own set of wings. They are installed on the doors fronting the Regent Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. Miller also left her art in Hollywood and in Ventura but those are gone, she says. She reports that three new sets will be installed in Koreatown this week. There is talk about a few to be added in South Los Angeles.

"I kept thinking that in these times of so much darkness and negativity, the image of wings as enlightenment, hope, freedom, purity, and flight would be a good thing people to see and be a part of," she said. "I just keep seeing wings all over the city in my mind."

With the photography, the piece becomes about the people and photos, and not so much about the artist, she adds. "Each picture is different and the people get to embrace being Angels."

"We are the City of Angels. Why not just be that?"

Top: "I got me some wings" writes Christopher Kenneth Lee Lintner on Facebook I Photos courtesy Colette Miller.

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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