Excerpt from "Afternoon Tea" by Judithe Hernández for the Metro Expo Line

Monthly Mural Wrap: A Dozen Tags for February, 2014

The first months of 2014 brings news of Metro art and tours, murals not seen to the general public in decades, an exhibit that has some cholo graffiti scare the locals, and Big Horn sheep have a personal crusade to bring awareness in the Sierra Nevadas.

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Judithe Hernández responded to Metro's call for public art in 2012, and was selected to grace one of seven new Metro stations on the Expo Line to Santa Monica. She sent a preview of her work that's slated for the grand terminus station at Colorado and 4th Street in Santa Monica, that is, as she wrote, "the station at the edge of the continent." It's an ode to the passage of the Day and Seasons:

Like musical movements, the 24 works chart the passage, from east to west, of the phases of the day from sunrise to sunset, and from spring to winter. The collection of works will be known collectively as 'L.A. Sonata'. The inspiration for the images was supplied by all the cultures that have immigrated to Los Angeles, bringing with them their customs, music, mythologies, and colors. 'Afternoon Tea' is an imaginary tea party set in East Los Angeles' icon Hollenbeck Park. The beautiful Japanese geishas are entertaining a group of guests who represent the earth's seven continents. It was my intention to create images that would move along the station's platforms like a story set to music blending together the cultural iconography of the many peoples who have made Los Angeles one of the most amazing cities in the world.
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KCET contributor Mike "the Poet" Sonksen will lead a tour of Metro art on February 14. No doubt it will be filled with storytelling, as you may have seen in his articles such as "Richard Wyatt: Artist for Los Angeles." On the subject of Metro Art, a series of workshops to inform artists about upcoming opportunities, and how to apply for them, will be held in February and March at locations throughout Los Angeles County. Details at the website.

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Jane Kim is the science illustrator-turned-muralist, getting attention for her migrating mural along Highway 395. Kim attended Cal State Monterey Bay, which by chance, has a B.A. program in Visual and Public Art. The artist didn't realize her alma mater was steeped with courses in public visual engagement. Her project came out of her studio Ink Dwell, a push by Kickstarter, and a love for majestic Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.

Courtesy of Jane Kim

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Courtesy of 118 Winston

Helen Ly / viewfromloftWhile it did not fit in the thematic form of indigenous-as-subject for a previous post,
as a member of Winston Death Squad, the artist known as Free Humanity (Free for short) taps into cultural and animation iconography with his street wise figurative work. As part of the utility box art program, a collaboration between 118 Winston and District 14, Audrey Hepburn is draped with a shawl and paired with the Guadalupe. Oh, then there is the interactive piece that has Alice warning of corporate evil. Free's flirt with the fictitious female form as spiritual guide expands the theory that painted utility boxes plays off the symbolism of totemism.

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Through Nathan Masters and L.A. as Subject, KCET readers have gotten to know the city's history through photography. When hunting down photos for the recent post "L.A.'s Long Tradition of Conflict Over Art in Public Spaces," the source was California State University, Los Angeles. The library is being refiled and organized under the watch of Azalea Camacho, the newly hired University Library Archivist. She shall be sending samples of discovered images. Writing on the Wall is looking forward to what she may uncover in the stacks.

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L.A. Taco posted Vyal's pop-up tribute to R. Mutt's "Fountain" from 1917. Now, as mentioned here before, "Fountain" was a weapon of mass deconstruction by Marcel Duchamp, an early work that's a blueprint for subversive street art. I'll add that Vyal reminds us "Fountain" was an early use of a satirical nom de plume on subversive works.

Courtesy of LATaco.

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In Anaheim, Galo Canote curated "Con Safos (With Respect): The Art and Culture of Urban Chirography," and was ready with the exhibition. However, he pulled the show when he felt pressure to censor works with "cholo" graffiti, reports the OC Register. Muzeo, formerly the Anaheim Museum, was skittish with the works, which included Los Angeles artist Chaz Bojórquez. A visit from an officer with the Anaheim Police's gang unit, who identified "a series of dots and a phrase as references to a local street gang" didn't help soothe the worries of the museum board. The show was cancelled, leaving a hole left in the Anaheim Museum programming, and closed one of the few shows that was not a traveling exhibition.

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Now, this should be a mural somewhere. Long time Angelenos will recall "Nuclear War" as one of the most powerful covers for any publication in Los Angeles. Created by Mark Vallen for L.A. Weekly in 1980, it's on display at Pasadena Museum of California Art through April 20 in "Serigrafía," the show that compliments "Picturing Mexico: Alfredo Ramos Martínez in California."

Mark Vallen I Photo: viewfromaloft

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"The Great Wall of Los Angeles" can finally start their bridge to L.A. History. A long planned green walkway that will serve as an central public entrance and interpretive center to the Great Wall received a "last piece of the $1.35 million funding puzzle SPARC has put together over the past four years," reports Carren Jao for KCET's River Notes.

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Vincent Kitch is the new Cultural Arts Manager for Carlsbad, who will oversee programming that has made the city a public art model, reports San Diego City Beat. His first major move is selecting Northern California large-scale abstract sculpture Roger Stoller for a project for a new roundabout. "If all goes well, and the art maintains its integrity through the at-times grueling public process, it will be yet another feather in the city's hat," according to S.D. Beat.

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When Ace Hotel opened the doors to revamped United Artist Theater, completed in 1927, it was a reminder that L.A. mural history predates David Alfaro Siqueiros' "America Tropical." The works by Jose Rivas, through Anthony Heinsbergen's studio, is a nod to United Artists founders, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin. Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith, plus a few industry friends.

The Ace Hotel is also using their built-in art and cultural destination beginning February 20, with a three-night residency for L.A. Dance Project, and the U.S. premiere of "Reflections", choreographed by Benjamin Millepied with music by David Lang; and Murder Ballads, by Justin Peck, with music by Bryce Dessner of The National. Music will be performed live by pianist Gloria Cheng, recipient of a Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra) Grammy in 2009. On the bill are "visual concepts" by Barbara Kruger and Sterling Ruby.

Photo: Don Solosan, Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation

Photo: Don Solosan, Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation

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Photo: viewfromaloftThe MCLA panel "Will Los Angeles Reclaim Its Title as 'Mural Capital of the World'" wasn't as much a new revelation of cultural goals, but a victory lap for the passing of the mural ordinance. Held at the L.A. Art Show January 19, panelists included Attorney Eric Bjorgum of Karish & Bjorgum Intellectual Property Law, touching on what is legal or not; Felicia Filer, Public Art Director for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs on the role of public art; and muralist Artist Willie Herrón III on the mission of restoring works.

Panelist Allison "Hueman" Torneros spoke of her mural on the corner of Third and Main, the corner that has been a topic in the last few weeks, and brought up how the ordinance doesn't answer to the new mural aesthetic of temporary works. Answering to that was co-panelist Councilmember Jose Huizer, who stated that the policy is still in its infancy and can be revisited. Also on hand for the panel was Kent Twitchell, whose murals studies were exhibited alongside works by John Valadez, Willie Herrón III, Pablo Cristi,  Sonia Romero, Augustine Kofie, SABER, MEAR ONE, DEFER, and Tanner Goldbeck.

CARTWHEEL organized a tour of works in the Arts District, which began with around sixty mural fans meeting the MCLA booth for a quick talk by Rojas-Williams, then boarded a bus, with and introduction Steve Grody, author of "Graffiti L.A." in the south end of the district, then another intro at the north end by Jonathan Gerald of District Gallery. The tour went over the allotted time, but no one seemed to mind.

Top: 'Afternoon Tea' courtesy of Judithe Hernández.

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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