2014_cityhall.jpgCity Hall ready for New Year's Eve I Photo by Helen Ly

Monthly Mural Wrap: A Dozen Tags for December, 2013

December ended with over 20,000 Angelenos gathering in Grand Park for a New Year's Eve celebration, which showed that the city knows how to be a tribe. At the new L.A. event were some older standbys: long lines at food trucks, outdoor concerts, and minor gate crashing. There were also art installations, including Micheal Murphy's particle sculpture that was ... you know ... like, mellow. In the afternoon, the 750 neoprene spheres, LEDs, and monofilament installation lounged while waiting for the night. Then after dark, it helped end a busy December and welcome in 2014.

LA2014 I Micheal Murphy

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San Fernando Valley based artist Kristy Sandoval is also ready for 2014. The muralist has final approvals pending for a new installation for the corner pocket park on Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Fox Street in Pacoima. "I will be painting another mural on Van Nuys Boulevard at Glenoaks, also in Pacoima," said Sandoval, who was recently featured in the Holiday 2013 issue of Ventura Blvd. She has a third mural planned for March that will land in Sylmar, and a possible fourth mural in April for El Sereno. "It's looking to be a busy year of muraling so far," she said as 2013 ticked away.

Pocket park mural I Laurel Sandoval

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Sandoval's mural list may be part of the new "Public Art Plan" that Levi Ponce has been hinting about. Leading up to The Daily News article on him that highlights his second mural in Reseda, Ponce posted a photo of himself. In it, he just may have proposed a logo concept for the Valley mural movement he's leading: he stands against a wall holding two boards in the shape of an L, and the ladder doubles as the A.

Levi Ponce I Facebook

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The historic murals commissioned for the lobby of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building will remain in situ, preserving a milestone in African-American public art history. "The Negro in California History -- Settlement and Development" by Hale Woodruff and The "Negro in California History -- Exploration and Colonization" by Charles Alston, are a "panoply of Indian, Spanish, Anglo and, especially, African American men and women are shown, in dramatic styles far different from the similarly themed, gently pastoral murals by illustrator Dean Cornwell in the rotunda of the Central Library, completed in 1932," wrote Christopher Knight during a 2011 threat to the murals, which were dedicated in 1949.

After a long legal dispute, an undisclosed settlement provides that the murals are part of the building, which will be the future HQ for the non-profit South Central Los Angeles Regional Center, reported The L.A. Sentinel. "We are excited over the outcome of the settlement and know that we share our excitement with every other historian, preservationist, and L.A. native that understands the value of these murals to our community and city's history," said Malcolm Bennett, Friends of SCLARC's Board President.

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Muralist John Coleman completed a pro-bono piece for Save-a-Pet, a no-kill shelter operated by The Animal Hospital of Desert Hot Springs. "I paint wild life murals. It's emotional. I love all kinds of creatures. I hope it will touch people," said Coleman to Coachella Valley Weekly, who reported that Coleman picked a German Shepard as model to honor the local K-9 unit. The mural has the conservative look seen in the "rural mural movement," but you get a sense that the dog haven of downtown Los Angeles would flip for painted pets like this. The mural is right off the heels of more contemporary work by Fin DAC and Christina Angelina, who left behind murals in Palm Springs and Salton Sea.

Animal Clinic of Desert Hot Springs I Photo courtesy Ann Woods

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AP photographer Nick Ut took a trip to Borrego Springs, California, where the creatures by Richard Breceda reside. The "metal animal kingdom" began with the release of movie Jurassic Park III, stated Breceda. His first dinosaurs migrated from Perris to Anza-Borrego in 2008, before multiplying into different creatures.

Courtesy of Nick Ut

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Machine Project's Bennett Williamson and Jessica Cowley talk signs at The HafoSafo Chorus and the Sunset Foot Clinic Sign Online, with Cowley bringing up one of L.A.'s oldest courses the Sign Graphic program at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. LATTC's "Doc" Guthrie leads the department, and Cowley speculates that kids who take the classes "see themselves as the new wave that is going to revive this craft that's been dying since the early '80s." Also on faculty is Art Mortimer, who teaches "Fundamentals of Mural Painting" and leads students in projects around the city, including at Dodger Stadium.

Speaking of Happy Foot signs with a sad foot dark side -- the same street is home to those "seedy" American Apparel billboards that were stalked by photographer Thomas Alleman. The NY Times ate up the fetish of a crooked Los Angeles, pointing to how these photographed billboards are part of a landscape with "haphazard construction, a sprawling world of concrete and desperation." This Los Angeles sign-noir could perhaps be taught as a new course at LATTC.

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Nice story coming out of Powhatan Today. "Famous mural artist comes to Powhatan" was the headline for when "Hollywood" artist Robert Gomez visited Virgina over the holidays. You may know him as dytch66.

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Abel Leba is adding to LA Freewalls' portfolio with a new mural on the north facing wall of Santa Fe Lofts on Sixth Street, between Main and Los Angeles. It will be finished by January 9, the night of the year's first Downtown L.A. Art Walk.

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Two public art pieces by Rebeca Mendez, a professor in the design media arts department at UCLA, are part of the new Pico Rivera Library. Dedicated on December 14 were Mendez's installations "Circumsolar, Migration 2," a photo collage-mural inspired by the local migratory birds, and "Observation Post I," a sculpture that's a portal for a quote from Marcel Proust, and made of corten steel that will change from orange to a deeper orange brown through time.

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The meaning of Los Angeles streets changes with signs by artist Jay Shells, who brings rap lyrics as wayfinders. Video via Animal New York.

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Photo: Pamela J. PetersIndian Alley, the nickname for Werdin Place, as designated by local oral history and enabled by art gallery 118 Winston, is becoming a small cultural zone.

In the body of photographs that revisit Kent Mackenzie's 1961 film, "The Exiles," Pamela J. Peters assembled her cast at the renamed alley. It was one of a number of stops around downtown Los Angeles. It's another contribution by artists responding to the idea how an alley, which was once a Skid Row gathering stop for Native-Americans, is allowed to keep its sense of place.

Landon Taylor shot and edited a time lapse video of Free Humanity's mural at Winston and Los Angeles Street, as seen previously at Writing on the Wall, along with a video that shows the sculpture of the Native American on the street fading away slowly, the leader of the ephemera tribe of downtown Los Angeles.

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The Broad's "veil" is being installed. The first wave of The Broad Museum's interwoven lattice lingers near Grand Avenue. Hard-hat media tours were held in September, but to see it in place after being introduced in renderings is a different thing. Due to open in late 2014, the assembly that will house the city's newest contemporary art museum is becoming a street sculpture.

The Broad January 5, 2014 I Photo by Helen Ly

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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