Here’s yet another beautiful “Lovewall”(a.k.a., “Bleeding Hearts”) mural by British street art rockstar JGoldcrown. This one is new and on the wall behind the Groundwork Coffee cafe at the corner of Montana Avenue and 16th Street in Santa Monica, in Los Angeles.
The artwork of Australian-Iraqi artist Toba Khedoori leaves a distinct impression. Her works are primarily finely detailed, photo-realistic pencil drawings in monochromatic lead or color on massive sheets of waxed paper. The drawings tend to be focused on discrete, single objects set in a vast emptiness — a chair, a fence, a door — or a piece removed from its larger architectural context — rows and rows of seats from a theater or, as in the example pictured here, a fireplace. It’s one of a series of drawings of fireplaces currently on view as part of her solo show at LACMA in Los Angeles. The drawing has a trompe l’oeil quality but has none of the cheap gimmickry of that anachronistic decorative conceit. Looking at the drawing from afar, it appears as if there’s an actual fireplace recessed into the gallery wall.
The clothing brand Monrow will soon be opening a retail concept store in this tiny, old California-style bungalow near Venice Beach in Los Angeles. As standard retail practice, the windows of the house-turned-shop are covered with paper to provide privacy while the final interior build-out is being completed. The Monrow signage is up and the lights are on, so the brand has announced itself in the neighborhood. It will be interesting to see what the company does with the space.
We recently went to a series of meetings at a creative agency in Southern California. The walls of the conference room where the meetings were held were covered in wheat-paste street art. Most of the artwork was boldly illustrated black-and-white poster cut-outs of hand-drawn graphics in a comic style. Our favorite was a large graphic of a masked Mexican “lucha libre”-style wrestler. The artwork gave the conference room a lot of energy and a sense of fun, while showcasing the tastes of the company’s creative team.
This powerful street art mural in Venice, Los Angeles depicts late boxing legend Muhamed Ali. The image is based on a photo of Ali and references the famous 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match he fought. The match was held in Zaire (now Congo), where local supporters cheered Ali with the Lingala phrase “Ali bomaye!” which is written on the wall in red paint.
On a recent visit to the Arcana bookstore in Culver City, in Los Angeles, we checked out some beautiful coffee-table books on surfing and surf photography. Among these was a book titled “Surfing San Onofre to Point Dume: 1936-1942.” It’s a collection of sepia-toned photos by Don James documenting his surfing experience and his surfer friends and their lifestyle in Southern California during the pre-World War II era and early war years. The photos reveal what the surfing life was like in its first idyllic golden age when the Hawaiian “sport of kings” was still novel and taking root in California.
The original location of the iconic and legendary bodybuilding mecca Gold’s Gym is a block away from the sands of Venice Beach in Los Angeles. The painted logotype signage on its facade is faded, and that, coupled with the simple architecture of the building, suggests the gym’s vintage and no-nonsense austerity. This is where Arnold Schwarzenegger trained as a bodybuilder in the 1970s and ’80s before launching his action-film career. A few blocks away stands a much larger and modern Gold’s Gym where the bodybuilding tradition continues.
Pictured here is another mural by the artist Jules Muck (a.k.a., “Muckrock”), who’s street art is associated with Venice Beach and can be found all around this famed Los Angeles beach neighborhood. The mural depicts a dog and a comic-book thought bubble with the statement “I wanna bone,” where the bone is visually represented by a cartoon-style bone.
Among our favorite places in Los Angeles is the Arcana bookstore in Culver City. It’s specialized in “books on the arts,” and its collection of books on art, design, photography, architecture and anything aesthetically significant is vast, comprehensive, and well-organized. They seem to have everything. Though Arcana is a business, its ambiance, interior design and space give it a feel that’s more like a library, albeit a handsome, spare, minimalist, post-modern library in a former industrial space. There are long communal tables upon which customers can lay heavy tomes of art and page through these books at a leisurely pace. It’s one of the best bookstores in the world. If GlobalGraphica was an actual place, Arcana would be our preferred physical manifestation of it, though with a kick-ass espresso machine and a rack full of surfboards included.
This beautiful old-school graffiti art is on a corrugated metal fence next to the Venice Beach offices of an advertising agency called Cold Open. Check out this short time-lapse video documenting the painting of this graffiti artwork.
Auteur film director Wes Anderson has produced an amusing short Christmas film (see below) as long-form commercial for the global Swedish clothing retailer H&M. It’s called “Come Together” and stars Adrien Brody as the conductor of a train carrying passengers through a winter holiday storm. The four-minute film is an exercise in branded content for H&M. Aside from a logo “bug,” branding itself and commercial messaging has been kept to a minimum at the end of the video. “Come Together” is quintessential Anderson in terms of style, editing, production design and cinematography, and it is as visually charming as anything we’ve seen from the director. Anderson has directed commercials for other brands in the past and you can see some of them online at AdWeek.
We were driving through Leucadia, California recently on a weekend surf trip when this freight train decorated with lots of graffiti rolled by. Nearly every car in this train had either massive artwork like in the above photo or colorful graffiti tags painted on it. Where and when this graffiti was painted is anybody’s guess, but it wasn’t in Encinitas. The train brings the artwork to audiences far away from where it was painted. It’s an example of what outer-borough subway graffiti writers back in 1970s New York City used to refer to as “getting up and getting out.”
This photo-realistic mural of the late Jack Herer is by artist Brian Garcia (a.k.a., TAZROC). You can find it at 1501 Pacific Avenue in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. Herer was a well-known activist and book author advocating for the legalization of marijuana who was sometimes referred to as “the Emperor of Hemp.” The mural is on a building that at the time it was painted was occupied by the Nile Collective, a cannabis clinic that has since moved to the beach town of Playa del Rey a few miles south.
Time magazine recently published the “100 Most Influential Images of All Time.” It’s a stunning mixed collection of iconic, powerful and beautiful images. Among these images is the first photograph ever taken, a picture from 1826 titled simply “View from the Window at Le Gras.” The image shown above is a 1968 photo titled “The Invasion of Prague.” It’s one of our favorites.
We have a hunch that the message in this typographic garage-door mural by artist Adam Mars may be an accurate description of the person residing in this Venice Beach home. Using our powers of imagination, we picture this “highly successful beach bum” as a man in his early forties, with tousled, shoulder-length hair, perhaps with bleached-out blonde streaks (from spending all that time at the beach), a thin unkempt beard, feet clad in either Havaianas flip-flops or lace-up Van’s and a natural, medium-bronze tan. In his garage is either a vintage Porsche 912b in need of maintenance or a beat-up Land Rover Defender in need of a wash.
Atwater Village in Los Angeles is where we found this stencil street art of a cute Sesame Street muppets-like monster on the sidewalk. (If you’re looking for it, it’s in front of Kaldi Coffee on Glendale Blvd.) There’s not a lot of this type of street art in Atwater, but it’s not much of a surprise to find it here either.
Atwater is a relaxed neighborhood tucked on a plain across the L.A. river north of and directly adjacent to the small mountainous areas of Silver Lake and Echo Park, L.A.’s long-established two-name combo of gentrified hipsterland. These two hoods feel very much a part of the city and have layers of grit and patination suggesting the edgy character of their pre-gentrification past. Atwater, on the other hand, only a couple of minutes drive away, feels like a quiet residential suburb a world away and is largely devoid of central L.A.’s gritty tinctures.
Yet it has captured the hipster overspill of cool restaurants and foodie haunts, third-wave espresso bars, indie book and record stores, vintage clothing shops and yoga studios that have signified the gentrification process in the Silver Lake and Echo Park for the past 10-15 years. With has come art and street art.
That said, there’s some hipster cultural heritage in Atwater. In the 1990s, the Beastie Boys ran their mini music and Grand Royal magazine empire from offices and studios on Glendale Blvd., Atwater’s main drag. They recorded their seminal sample-heavy album “Paul’s Boutique” there, too. Atwater is also home to what some consider to be among the finest tacos in Los Angeles. For a segment a few years ago on his TV series “The Layover,” Anthony Bourdain stopped by Tacos Villa Corona, a microscopic hole-in-the-wall Mexican food joint that the Beasties used to frequent.
This colorful flurourescent-light sculptural object at San Francisco MoMA is a minimalist classic by the late artist Dan Flavin. Regular visitors to GlobalGraphica may have noticed that we’re suckers for minimalism (it’s true). Works like this really appeal to our sense of a lean, clean, pared aesthetic and the power of empty space. Like much of the work that marked the latter and better-known part of his artistic career, Flavin’s SF MoMA installation makes use of readymade materials — tubes and fluorescent lights — and is composed within site-specific architectural spaces.