Monthly Mural Wrap: A Dozen Tags for November, 2013

With the announcement that murals will be allowed on private homes in some city neighborhoods, this Guadalupe mural in Boyle Heights guides this month's monthly wrap into a holiday season that brings muralists tidings of news joy.

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Steve McQueen Monument (1971) by Kent Twitchell I Photo © 2011 Isabel Rojas-Williams Single-family homes in council district's 1, 9, and 14 will soon be allowed to have murals, announced council offices yesterday, supporting the amendment to the mural ordinance. The pilot program also allows art on "exterior door openings," such as roll-down steel doors on commercial buildings. Artists (or their sponsors) in these districts can now join the pool of mural projects buying into permits with a $60 application fee. A formal final sign-off for the amendment is expected. "I understand that in some parts of our city, residents would prefer not to have murals on single family homes, but in my district, we are actively working with local non-profits and residents to reclaim and beautify our streets, and murals are an important component of our community improvement plan," Councilmember Curren Price said in a statement.

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W.B. "Barry" Fontenot is the pride of Walla Walla, Washington. "The Communal Distraction from Evolution" is his 24-by-15-foot mural, now installed at the Federal Bar in downtown Long Beach. The artist stated that the bar is "a perfect fit for the mural, 'a hip, bohemian place, that's coming into its own.'" He hopes it will appeal to viewers, artistically and aesthetically, and inspire reflection, reports Walla Walla Union.

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T&T by Petal One I Tanner BlackmanThe initial author of the mural ordinance, Tanner Blackman, recently married Takae Nagamiya. Together, they are running with a graffiti crew-like nickname; "T&T." One gift was a mural by Petal One' at Seventh and Mateo in the Arts District.

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Bellflower politicos bounced a mural proposal that was slated to use historical themes on a wall under construction. City Council "directed city staff to return with drawings that would incorporate the 'village' theme, but attract the younger generation," reports Long Beach Wave. No word if "attract the younger generation" means they want a mural with street art aesthetic, or that painting civic history is too dry a topic for a village aiming for youth.

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Murals are not just an influence of storytelling and creative planning for locals. When Stan Holcomb was raised in the mean streets of El Monte, he recalls passing that "mural with all the kids" as a child riding the back seat of a car. Now he's using the idea of large-scale art to make a difference as Public Arts Commission Chair for Leander, Texas, population 26,251, just north of Austin. Murals are on his planning agenda, said Holcomb. He hopes to find ways for children in his neck of Texas to get the same experience he has. Growing up with the memory of being driven past art, marking a journey home or back.

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As planned, "A View of the World from Isla Vista" was dedicated in September. "The students leave a little bit of legacy behind and have this wonderful work to show," said Ann Hefferman in a report from UC Santa Barbara The Bottom Line. "I know I learned as much from the students as I taught them, so it was definitely a collaborative project." The UCSB Urban Art Workshop will produce two more murals, one in spring and the next one in summer of 2014.

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It's odd that a baby alien was lifted from a mural in Roswell, New Mexico. Roswell Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dorrie Faubus-McCarty, has no answer to the heist and speculates it was beamed away. Central California artist, muralist, and Cal-State Long Beach alum John Cerney painted a new child alien and shipped to Roswell.

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Cart Walk I Photo by Kevin RoderickLA Observed publisher Kevin Roderick took a trip up to the Mojave desert and snapped this photo. It's not as majestic as Cadillac Ranch in Potter County, Texas, but there is a charm to this golf carts working as roadside public art. Writing on the Wall dubs the installation California City Cart Walk.

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Christopher Reynolds spotted the L.A. archetype for a suitable avatar, in case the city needs one. The image comes from being "designed to give this sprawling, many-tongued city a universal female image who transcends ethnicity." The two faces with a related aura are on two different pieces. One he calls, "Our Lady of the Trains," and the other is located at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Grand Avenue.

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Mayor Eric Garcetti took to the streets, desk and all, to talk "Great Streets Initiative" with Angelenos. To get it on the record here, he made the declaration of "And while we're at it, let's add some sculptures and murals," reports City Watch.

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Coachella Valley High School has been under fire for the mascot "Arab," which is often used as a fierce caricature, typical for sports mascots. There is a demand, led by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, for it to be changed, as they believe it carries negative stereotypes of Arab-Americans. The mascot was chosen in the early 20th century for the region's connection to crops, the date festival, and was "never intended to dishonor or ridicule anyone," district superintendent Darryl Adams stated in a letter the Desert Sun. The school district is determined to not change the name, but will review the image of the mascot, which would include the series of murals on campus. Some of those works have the offending image, while another has a romanticized version of a couple that is far from the scowling warrior wearing a turban. The coverage has been national, including Al Jazeera America.

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"I put it all together over a span of three months," said Bryan "Birdman" Mier"Three trips, each lasting one day, with a different group of artists who were only given one day to work." Birdman trailed a tribe of graffiti artists and made this video at the abandoned water park in Newberry Springs, first known as "Lake Dolores," then "Rock-A-Hoola."

Top: Guadalupe en Boyle Heights I Photo: waltarrrrr/Flickr/Creative Commons

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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