The 1st Commissioned Spray Can Art Mural of the Arts District
It was the summer of the LA Riots and the world celebrated the quincentennial celebration of Christopher Columbus’s arrival. I was about to-rage against the machine in my own way.
The Department of Cultural Affairs along with S.P.A.R.C. under their Neighborhood Pride Walls Program offered a Request for Qualifications Grant to all Los Angeles artists in 1991. Members of the Earth Crew were in Mexico City at the time working on a mural project when they received a message from Artist Chaz Bojorquez. He suggested we apply for the grant and right then and there in a bustling VIPS Diner we flipped over our paper placemats and sketched out the plans for the mural and faxed it quickly that day.
A year later we received the news that we had been awarded the grant along with other muralists.
I was away at the time in Brazil that beginning of the summer and and couldn’t believe the news. My plans quickly changed and I flew back to organize the mural production with my fellow artist Erick Duke Montenegro, Rogelio Angst Cabral ,and Helen Samuels. Along with a small team of assistants we managed to get it done during July and August.
I first found the wall when I returned from Brazil and as I walked around skid row near my old neighborhood of Boyle Heights where I grew up, I found the wall. Across from the County GR offices I found my audience. The poor and disenfranchised and forgotten people of downtown. I wanted to paint the mural there where it would help heal the people who would walk there.
The Original site of the wall was leased to Tokiwa Foods Corp. And a Mr. Minigawa gave me my first break by allowing us to paint the mural there.
There’s more to the story…but you can book a mural tour with me and hear it first hand.
Here are the first photos taken by me and my dad using an old polaroid camera and a 35 mil.Cannon Ae-1 Camera.
It really shows what the place looked like and what obstacles we had to confront in order to get started. From Heroine needles on the ground to homeless addicts roaming around, painting was not as glamorous as street artist make it out to be these days.
It wasn’t the Arts District we know today.
I hope you can appreciate the dedication to the documentation I made over the years.
Check out this great video
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