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Monthly Mural Wrap: A Dozen Quick Tags for July 2012

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Shepard Fairey's mural in London courtesy of Shepard Fairey.

In this edition of the Monthly Mural Wrap at Writing on the Wall, we look at the notable mural and public art stories for the month of July. The quick tags include nod to a librarian, a tour of Jewish murals, and some catching up with what local artists are doing here and abroad.

CLICK HERE: Ruth Wallach of USC Libraries is the caretaker of the online resource, Public Art in L.A., which she has been a steadfast guardian for nearly 16 years. She began the site in late 1996 in memory of Dr. Dennis Thomison, a colleague she credits for guiding a broader awareness about Los Angeles own history. "Thomison was a professor at the USC School of Library Science, before it closed in 1986, and an important professional mentor to me until his death in April 1996," said Wallach. The website, while looking a bit retro, is easy to navigate and is still a great way be introduced to the wide depth of public art and murals in Los Angeles.

OLYMPIC EVENT: Across the pond, "Letters from America" features street artists and their installations, including a strong contingent from Los Angeles, such as RISK and SABER. The project was instigated by Corey Helford Gallery. Other street artists include Ron English. Plus, Shepard Fairey installed UK's largest mural at London Pleasure Gardens, the largest he has ever done. It's a 60 by 80 foot power of free speech message on a old billboard. Or as the Guardian UK writes: It's a "long-disappeared Victorian placard" on a "crumbling and slightly tatty shop wall." More can be read atKCRW.

COVER STORY: Artist Duce completed a mural replicating cover art for indie band Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros' new album "Here" at 432 Fairfax Avenue. It's an homage to the band, said the artist.

THIS STORY CONTINUES: Did MOCA's "Art in the Streets" help shape the current anti-Jeffrey Deitch rhetoric coming after the "non-firing" of curator Paul Schimmel? The exodus of artists from the MOCA board resigning in protest of pop celebrity and visual fashion taking over art scholarship has been newsworthy across the nation. Deitch's initial selection has been revisited, including the NY Times who wrote Deitch appointment "was seen in the art world as an ideological shift: a demonstration of the increasingly blurry line between the commercial and museum worlds, of a growing desire among some museums to experiment with more populist programming, and of changing views about how younger audiences define art."

GONE. NOT FORGOTTEN: In Memory Of Lost Mural Department has us thinking of "Our Lady of the Iguanas" at 3920 Sunset, the 1994 1,050 square foot that was painted over last year. Cause of demise: billboarding. Recall in this 2011 post at The EastsiderLA.

AROUND KCET's ARTBOUND: Oliver Wang speaks to Slick, Cristian Gheorghiu has SMEAR; and Shana Nys Dambrot talks METRO mural mosaics with Sonia Romero.

ART VID: Photographer Birdman's new video documents the "Break Night Lovers" installation from Aussie duo Dabs Myla. Birdman writes that the music was a collaboration "with an old friend from music school, Ian Rees . . . Dabs and Myla each have their own musical themes that stand alone when they are on screen and when together the music harmonizes.

WEEKLY THOUGHT ONE: Nice piece at the L.A. Weekly about the Los Angeles Jewish Mural Tour, a program that began by Janna Fisher when she was an undergrad at Colorado State. Worth noting is that only in L.A. will the Chicano tradition of muralism be used to tell the story of the local Jewish Community at the hands of a Filipino artist, as seen on one mural on the tour, "A shenere un besere velt" (A more beautiful and better world). That 1998 mural was commissioned by Workmen's Circle and created by Eliseo Silva.

WEEKLY THOUGHT TWO: However, one may disagree with the same L.A. Weekly article that credits the "Chicano Mural Movement" began in "1970s Chicago." While Chicago based African-American muralist William Walker did paint "Wall of Respect" in 1967 as a response to the civil rights movement, and one of the first pieces to be a political statement in the context of grassroots urban community art, California's Central Valley has a major role in community murals. The Del Rey Mural on the walls of El Teatro Campesino painted in 1968 by Antonio Bernal also had a direct impact on Chicano Muralism in California, often credited as the regional influence that reached California's barrios.

OUT OF TOWN MURAL REVISIONISM: The result of the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State is the artist of a locally known mural, across from the campus, took out the image of Jerry Sandusky . The late coach Joe Paterno is still a figure in the mural, but the artist removed the halo he had painted over his head. And as you may know, the Joe Paterno statue was uprooted and stored away.

Art by Ramiro Gomez
Art by Ramiro Gomez

ARTIST WATCH: Cardboard artist Ramiro Gomez just returned from a trip from Europe that included a tour of museums, including the The Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; The Musée d'Orsay in Paris; and the The Museu Picasso in Barcelona. "What inspired me the most was seeing the similarities between what I'm seeing and painting in Beverly Hills, and that of the comparable affluent areas in the cities I visited," he said. That may appear in his new work. But first, at the left, is his latest piece in Arizona near the U.S. / Mexico border. A striking desert statement in what he calls a "special series." PLUS: Brazilian based street artist Eduardo Kobra came to Los Angeles and painted a festive carnival-like Mount Rushmore mural on La Brea. PLUS TWO: LA Freewalls Graffiti hosted street artists SEEN and RISK to paint up a wall on 4th place during Bloomfest 2012.

YOUNG PART ONE: At 19, Ben Waldow, aka Bendow, is the youngest artist to make his or her mark on The Standard Downtown L.A. 6th Street Mural Program. It's Bendow's fifth large-scale public project. Waldow is entering his junior year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this fall where he is studying printmaking and sculpture reports Beverly Hill Patch.

YOUNG PART TWO: Artist Christine Curry Coates has picked up some mural work after graduating from Otis College of Art+Design in 2007. It led to an article in the Press-Enterprise. Her young mural career began when she was asked by a teacher to paint one for her classroom, and one thing led to another, she says. "After she painted her first large mural she became hooked on the process," wrote Christine didn't know how big a legacy she was joining, she says by phone, but is beginning to realize it. She already has solid credentials. Along with her multiple projects in Riverside and Redlands, she assisted another Otis Alum, Kent Twitchell, with some of his restoration work.

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