Tag Archives: ephemeral art

Shocking: Street Art is Possibly Portrait of Late Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein

We recently stumbled upon some awesome street art work (see pic below) by the talented “Decisions and Review.” The work was wheatpasted in a back-alley (is there any other kind?) in the recently hip-ish Los Angeles suburb of El Segundo.

Never heard of El Segundo? Well, let us fill you in. It’s a respectable residential hamlet famous for being geographically surrounded by aerospace industry, oil fields, power plants, and LAX, as well as being the occasional location of ’90s-era rappers leaving behind their wallets.

There’s not a lot of street art in quiet, solidly middle-working-to-middle-hipster class “ELS,” or “the Gundo,” as some feral cafe-running locals like to call the place. So imagine our surprise to see some 100% Grade-A street art, the kind you see every five feet in NYC’s Lower East Side, in his staid LA burb.

But we’re burying the lede here: The street artwork in question, at first glance, looks like a colorful portrait of the late and notorious Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“Now, why would anybody want to do that?” you ask, red-faced and exasperated. Well, chill your fucking jets, ok! It’s not a portrait of Saddam Hussein! It’s somebody else.

Who? Well, we don’t know. But it’s not Saddam! Look closely at the photo … The dude is playing an acoustic  guitar. Like when did you EVER see an Iraqi dictator strumming 12-bar blues on a six-string Gibson? You cool now? 

Anyway, massive shouts to Decisions and Review for all their beautiful work. Check ’em.

“Skull Phone” Street Art by Spazmat

For years we would see the wheat-pasted artwork of artist Spazmat posted around downtown New York City. His posters were unmissable. His street art was comprised of an iconic image: An illustrated portrait of a skeleton with a cell phone in its bony hand held up to the skull as if talking on the phone. The posters were usually rendered in a stark white on black. Informally dubbed as “Skull Phone,” the image suggested many things, among these the dangers of technology.  We hadn’t seen Spazmat’s artwork in many years until we recently spotted one of his skull phone wheaties on a utility box along Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles. This one was printed in blue and white with a striped design, almost nautical in style and fitting for its location a few meters across the road from the ocean. 

“Rock the Dots” Minnie Mouse Mural at Alfred Coffee

Murals of iconic Disney cartoon character Minnie Mouse recently have been popping up at locations of the hip Alfred Coffee in Los Angeles. The one pictured here is at the third-wave coffee chain’s  Studio City cafe. Minnie is shown standing in a cloud of polka dots, for which she is known. At her heels is the hastag #rockthedots. The murals are part of a recent Disney promotional campaign and collaboration with various brands that strategically coincides with National Polka Dots Day (it’s real … who knew?!?!?).

“Deface This” Trump Street Art

These repeated black-and-white “Deface This” and “Not Norml” (sic) posters of new U.S. President Donald Trump are funny political commentary and an invitation to a form of participatory art and creative activism. We’ve being seeing these pop up around Los Angeles the past week or so. The ones pictured here were on a utility box on Sunset Blvd. in L.A.’s hip Silver Lake neighborhood.

Bernie Sanders on a Van

British-born artist Jules Muck (a.k.a., “Muckrock“) painted a portrait of recent U.S. Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders on the side of a white van, seen in the photos here parked on a residential side street in Venice, Los Angeles.

Muckrock’s street art and murals are a fixture of the LA’s westside landscape, especially in the neighborhoods around Venice Beach, where the artist lives. There’s also a bird painted next to Bernie on the van, but the significance of the small winged creature escapes us. That only the head of Sanders was painted — aside from the bird — and that the van is like a blank canvas, serves to further draw the viewer in and focuses attention on the subject.

. . . . .

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: A Global Graphica reader pointed out the significance of the bird in this artwork. It’s a reference to “birdie sanders” and an incident in early 2016 when then presidential candidate Sanders was giving a campaign speech and a small bird landed on his podium. We remember the event, but admit we totally missed this reference when we saw this street art!!! This helpful reader also pointed out that the bird depicted in the artwork is a White-crowned Sparrow, not the same type of bird that landed on Bernie’s podium. (Many thanks, Jerry!)

On another note, another reader pointed out that this mural brings another layer to the literal meaning of the word “VANdalism.” Hahaha.

As always we weclome reader feedback, suggestion, corrections and inquires via email. Thanks!

Black Version of JGoldcrown’s “Lovewall”

Here’s another one of the many “Bleeding Hearts” murals in Los Angeles by British artist JGoldcrown’s also called “Lovewall.” The one pictured here is near trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. The background color of these murals is usually white, and this one was until recently when it was repainted with a black background instead. Fresh.

Cleopatra in West Hollywood

When the late legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor appeared in the 1963 film classic “Cleopatra” in 1963, she unlikely never imagined that her likeness would appear as street art on a now hip stretch of Faifax Avenue in Hollywood. But so it is.

Film immortalizes. Street art, though usually ephemeral, has the power to do so, too, when photographed, now more than ever in the hyper image-capturing world thanks to the billions of us and our default digital habits via iPhones, Instagram and other social media.

This wheat-pasted artwork of Taylor will fade, be torn away or scraped off and disappear. But it has indelibly left itself in the memories of its viewers everywhere it appears whether on the streets of LA or as images saved across the global strata of devices and the cloud.

The artwork is signed by “Van” (no relation to the Van of this blog) and was put up on the window of an emptied retail space that has already been on the receiving end of the graffiti-tagging ritual that descends upon storefronts when a tenant leaves. The neighborhood is neither gritty nor overrun with graffiti, but given its hipster retail quotient (“HRQ”), it has become a home for an above-average volume of street art and, with it, the camptrail of graffiti art and sticker-bombed spaces.

This is due to an unusual confluence of Los Angeles geography, landmarks and neighboring institutions that draws an ideal demographic and market for style-centric retail and street art. At least a half-dozen shops catering to serious sneakerheads and street style sartorialists line both sides of Fairfax Avenue in a short segment between Melrose and Oakwood avenues. These include Crooks and Castles, Diamond Supply, Supreme and Hall of Fame. 

The strip is also home to the legenday Canter’s Deli, a long-time late-night hangout for bands and entertainment industry types. Fairfax High School is here, too, where on school days thousands of students traffick in and out of the area.

At one end of the stretch is Melrose itself, one of LA’s most-established and fashionable shopping destinations for designer clothing, high-end and street. At the other end is CBS Television City, and a little further south, Farmers Market and the Grove. For those selling premium, limited edition Nikes and Addidas and complimenting these with hoodies and caps, the neighborhood became an epicenter for a market eager to buy their wares.

As for Elizabeth Taylor and Van’s artwork, she in her glorious, braided Cleopatra hairstyle looks fittingly contemporary. If women (or a dude, for that matter) walked out of the Supreme store with that hair and make-up, it would seem perfectly normal, just another of the myriad styles either intentionally or unwittingly drawing on and referencing pop cultural influences of the recent aughts and late Twentieth Century. Late 1970s disco culture tapped into the chic of the Egytpian-via-Hollywood braids look. It was part of a pornstar’s circa-early-1980’s look in the movie “Boogie Nights.”

For much of her early and middle career, Taylor was a beauty and style icon. She was also the subject of one of the world’s foremost and most famous artists of the post-modern pop-art era, Andy Warhol. Until her passing, she was Hollywood royalty, at the apex of the “A” list before if was even called that, relevant at a distance even long after she was no longer appearing in blockbuster movies and away from the limelight.

In a way then, Taylor is exactly right where she should be immortalized as street art.