Hunting LA’s Street Art
LA is home to some of the world’s best and most notorious street art. The city’s historical LA River mural project, referred to as “The Great Wall of Los Angeles,” is perhaps one of the most compelling beginnings of where art first met graffiti in the City of Angels. Since then, the local and international scene has unfolded everywhere you look...that is, if you know where to look. Here are some of my favorite spots to find the best street art in Los Angeles.
Alexandre Farto (Vhils)
Venice is home to many street artists on its neighborhood walls (keep your eyes peeled for walls by Felipe Pantone and Jules Muck aka MuckRock), but I love this one by Alexandre Farto, aka. Vhils. Vhils is famous for his groundbreaking bas-relief carving technique where he literally deconstructs the wall to reveal faces and figures within. This piece speaks to the erosion and global development in our cities, especially appropriate on a street like Abbot Kinney, which has come to represent the development and rapid transformation of the once bohemian enclave. When you’re done admiring this beauty, walk down Abbot Kinney to Salt & Straw where you can sample some artisanal ice cream flavors before strolling over to see the rotating graffiti art at the Venice Public Art Walls (walk straight out onto the beach on Windward Ave and you can’t miss it).
This historic mural was refurbished by the original artist and thank goodness—it is truly majestic! This 70-foot-tall piece, painted by Torrez in 1985, depicts actor Anthony Quinn, who was born in Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles, in a pose said to be a nod to his role in the 1964 film Zorba the Greek. This revitalization was funded by the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles and is a true testament to the Latino community integral to Los Angeles. Only a block away is Grand Central Market, a bustling covered bazaar. It’s a great spot for lunch featuring every cuisine, and you can pick up produce and dried spices. I recommend trying Villa Moreliana , famous for their pulled pork tacos, and PBJ.LA for dessert (I like the Red Eye, made with espresso peanut butter and dark chocolate raspberry jam).
Artist's website: http://eloytorrezart.com
You can find Obey murals all over the city, but “Defend Dignity” is his most recent and one of the largest. Fairey’s truly iconic propaganda-style methodology, with the help of the prolific Obey posse, has taken him all the way from skater punk to branding Obama’s 2008 campaign posters. Perhaps the blooms found in this piece will inspire you to head over to the nearby Historic Los Angeles Flower Market. If you’re looking for more of Shepard Fairey’s street art in LA, you’ll find some of his notable work on the massive wall of the West Hollywood Public Library, on the Line Hotel in Koreatown, Community High School in South LA (for his Maya Angelou Rise Above piece), and in the permanent collections at LACMA .
Allison Torneros (Hueman)
You’ll find street art by local and international artists on every corner of the Arts District, but “Bloom” dominates the neighborhood. This work was completed by Filipina-American artist Allison Torneros in honor of Joel Bloom, a community advocate who helped create the LA Arts District. Her signature, water-colorey splashes come to life in this ethereal work you have to see to believe. When you’re done admiring it, walk down the street to Angel City Brewery for a locally-brewed pint and a round of skeeball before walking through historical Little Tokyo to find a variety of eateries, temples, Japanese architecture, and cultural sites. Grab a bubble tea in Japanese Village Plaza , or warm up with a spicy bowl of ramen from Daikokuya (Little Tokyo) (Portico Pro Tip: It’s cash only).
Last but not least is one of my very own pieces! Commissioned by the A+D Museum, stroll through the courtyard of Aliso Apartments to see this two-story mural, an homage to the thriving Asian-American community of downtown. Directly opposite is the recent work of French graffiti artist and LA resident Sebastien Walker, and you can also see Redemption of Angels, a collaboration by Christina Angelina and Fanakapan. You’ll find other art studios and galleries all over the Arts District, but I suggest you stop by the Montana Can Store and Art Gallery. It’s the best spot to buy high-end spray paints and graffiti supplies because who knows? Perhaps you’ll get inspired during your trip...