The Mission District of San Francisco is rife with street art and graffiti, much of it in the miles of alleyways running behind the apartment buildings and shops that line the main streets. The alley allows artists to work with some degree of privacy and offers lot of spaces for big murals.
This large stencil street art mural on a fence in Venice, in Los Angeles, depicts the late actor-artist Dennis Hopper as he appeared in the film “Apocalypse Now.” Hopper was a resident of Venice Beach, his home just a few blocks away from the location of this artwork.
This epic mural on the side of a store deep in San Francisco’s Mission District depicts the iconic and influential Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The Mission District (or simply, “the Mission”) is a fitting home to this artwork, given the area’s history as a hub for generations of Mexican and — more broadly — Central American immigrant communities in San Francisco. It has also been a home to many Latino artists and cultural institutions, though gentrification is gradually eroding some of the district’s Latino character.
Alongside Interstate 10, otherwise known at the Santa Monica Freeway, there’s a massive mural by street-art star DFace on the side of a multi-storied parking structure in the West Adams area near Downtown Los Angeles.
It seems like on just about every block and around every corner in Venice’s clashed-up grid of narrow streets and alleys, there’s a piece of street art by artist Jules Muck. His awesome corpus of public artwork is both literally and figuratively part of the Venice landscape, as much a part of this confused suburban costal paradise as its famous beach boardwalk. “Muck Saves” is a Christ-like portrait and play on the evangelical bumper-sticker phrase “Jesus Saves.” One could argue that Muck’s art is “saving” Venice. But from what? The tide of gentrification? That urban-renewal process inspired by association with Venice’s edgy patina and legacy of gritty charms. A process that’s simultaneously forever sanding away those gritty edges with the moneyed tastes of the arrivistes? Yes and no. Places change, evolve, grow. It can’t be “saved” any more that it can not be saved. Muck’s work is just a beautiful part of an already beautiful landscape.
On a recent visit to the sprawling, campus-like Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), we revisited one of the prized possessions of its permanent collection, a massive painting by British artist David Hockney. “Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio” is a quintessential L.A. painting. The image is an impressionistic depiction of the route traveled in the Hockney on the daily commute from his home in the Hollywood Hills to the space where he painted.
This mural is an accurate depiction of beach life on just about any given day at Santa Monica Beach. It can be found at the entrance to an alley off Bay Street just east of Main Street in the “Dogtown” area of Santa Monica’s Ocean Park (At the corner of Bay and Main is Dogtown Coffee, which occupies the space that was once home to the legendary Zephyr surf shop a la “Lords of Dogtown.”)
This beautifully evocative mural of a beach scene filled with surfers is by artist Shawn David Baker. The artwork was created in 2012 on the exterior wall of a liquor store in the Village of Carlsbad in San Diego County, California.
We spotted this cute mural in the parking lot of a popular, local greasy-spoon Mexican food joint called Ceccy’s in Carlsbad, an affluent seaside village north of San Diego, California. The mural is signed by the artist Bryan Snyder and shows a boy who has climbed into a tree and is reaching out for a single leaf at the end of a branch. There are few leaves on the tree. Most of them have piled up on the ground below. The image quietly suggests that the boy may have disturbingly plucked all the leaves from the tree. The painting is rendered in style that looks like something you’d see in a children’s book illustration, adding an element of innocence and whimsy.
American street artist DFace artwork often works with iconic pop-cultural imagery, often American retro-comic book styles and skeletal graphics. Here in Tokyo he’s de-constructed a Japanese icon, “Kitty -chan,” better know around the world as “Hello Kitty,” revealing her skull.