Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles

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Volume 8, Number 3 - Summer, 1997






MCLA Board member and Tour Director Robin Dunitz' latest mural book will be shipped in September. Painting the Towns: Murals of California gets out of Los Angeles to present a selection of about 300 murals from 50 cities and towns from around the state. Dunitz wrote and photographed the new book in collaboration with fellow mural historian James Prigoff.

Unlike her classic Street Gallery, Painting the Towns does not purport to be a comprehensive guide but a visually rich tour. Full color photographs of each selected mural and artists' statements form the heart of the new book, which can be advance-ordered from RJD Enterprises or the Mural Conservancy for $29.95 plus tax and shipping--see the MCLA Gift Order form!


The cover of "Painting the Towns: Murals of
California," by Robin Dunitz and James Prigoff.
You can order your copy now.


Painting the Towns' authors take the numerous community murals created up and down the state beginning with the late 1960s as the book's starting point. They trace the role the mural movement has played in racial and ethnic communities' efforts to combat discrimination, it's impact on today's youth culture, and the emergence of murals as a tourist attraction in small towns such as Susanville, Lompoc and Twentynine Palms.

While Ms. Dunitz is familiar to most MCLA followers, Prigoff's earlier book, Spraycan Art (1987) may also be on many of your shelves. He has documented murals throughout the U.S. for over 20 years, and resides in Sacramento.

Bill Lasarow


A limited edition collectible telephone calling card featuring Kent Twitchell's "Old Lady of the Freeway" has been released by Star Telecom Network, Inc. In a special arrangement with the card publisher, the Mural Conservancy will receive a substantial percentage of each card's purchase price of $20.

MCLA President Bill Lasarow was approached by Star Telecom in his capacity as publisher of ArtScene to help develop a series of fine art-based telephone cards. When he proposed a special arrangement to benefit the Mural Conservancy the response was enthusiastic, and the deal was struck. Artist Kent Twitchell signed on to the project, which then received final approval from the MCLA Board.

The resulting card, one of three released under Star Telecom and ArtScene's sponsorship, features the famous three-quarter portrait of Lillian Bronson, complete with the moon and the undulating afghan, and a reproduc- reproduction of the artist's signature.



The credit card-sized plastic card comes complete with telephone calling time, which is activated by calling a toll-free phone number and entering a PIN number. The rapidly growing telephone calling card industry, which has only emerged in the last two-three years, enables convenient telephone use when you are away from home and don't want to use a pay phone or run up a toll on a friend's line.

The card may be purchased at the Web site of Star Telecom,, or give them a direct phone call at 1 (800) 933-0277. Or order direct from the Mural Conservancy.



Compiled by Robin Dunitz

All you mural artists out there, if you want your public to know what you've been doing lately, please send the information, along with a picture if possible, to Robin Dunitz, PO Box 64668, Los Angeles 90064. Or you can call 310 470-8864.

Roy Herweck, "South Bay Mural" (detail), located at 22029 S. Figueroa St. in Carson at the A-1 All American Roofing Company. This new mural was recently unveiled in June.

The following new murals were completed through June.

Roy Herweck, "South Bay Mural," A-1 All American Roofing Company, 22029 South Figueroa St., Carson.
Part mural, part sign for the business, this 161-foot-long painting is a surreal landscape with a flying truck, birds crashing and diving, roof-top sunbathers and an alien space ship. The artist is a southern California native who taught adult school for 25 years after attending UCLA. This is his first major public work. In the past he has done mostly interior murals in restaurants, bars and stores.

Patricia Cardenas, assisted by Sybil Grinnell, "Off-Shore Marina del Rey," Toyota dealership, Lincoln Blvd. at Bali, Marina del Rey.
An 84-foot long blue whale with baby, plus sea lions, kelp, pelicans and other sea life. The whole mural measures 205 feet long by 22 feet high.

Alfredo Diaz Flores, "Eagle Mural," Sylmar Elementary School, 13291 Phillippi Ave., Sylmar.
Nesting bald eagles.

Daniel Rey,"Ad astra per aspera (To the Stars Through Difficulties)," Iguana Vintage Clothing, 14422 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Portraits of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando. The artist has done several other murals for businesses along Ventura Blvd., including Kwon Do West and Lightbulbs Unlimited.

Michael Wright, "Hudnall Fantasy," Hudnall Elementary School, Inglewood.

Michael Wright, "The Lampson Sea," Lampson Elementary School, Garden Grove.










Alonzo Davis' Eye On '84 was ministered to during June, receiving a new layer of varnish and sacrificial coating. The original urethane varnish had discolored and was literally peeling the mural off the wall. A Mural Conservancy crew had to remove the old varnish, clean and retouch the mural, and replace the urethane varnish with a coat of Soluvar. Located along the Harbor (110) Freeway at the 3rd Street onramp, Eye on '84 is not only an unusual triptych image that serves as a visual metaphor for the tapestry of local cultures, but it's the contribution by the artist who directed the Olympic Mural Project, an official part of the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles.

Photo © Arthur Mortimer.


The Erie Museum in Syracuse, New York is inviting muralists from anywhere in the U.S. to be considered for a major mural project to be executed on the north wall of the Senator John H. Hughes State Office Building in downtown Syracuse, the capitol city of New York state.

The mural must "feature a realistic portrayal of the Erie Canal during the mid-1800's," and is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 1998.

Artists wishing to be considered must send a cover letter, resumé, 3-5 slides of previous mural commissions, and one or more sketches for the proposed mural (also, include an SASE for return of materials). Submission deadline is September 1st.

Please call, write, or visit the Museum's Web site for important details: Erie Canal Museum Screening Committee, 318 Erie Blvd. East, Syracuse, NY 13202; (315) 471-0593;


Interviewed by Robin Dunitz and Wendy Juleff

"Under the Bridge," Silverlake Blvd. at Sunset Blvd., 1994. One of a series of murals created by Ernesto de la Loza especially for the Silverlake/Echo Park neighborhood.


Ernesto: I grew up in Northeast Los Angeles near Pasadena--in El Sereno. We weren't considered the by-products of East L.A. We were living in "Beverly Hills," so to speak, so we were very isolated, and we weren't accepted. We had to create our own path. In East L.A. they had the Brown Berets and a lot of political stuff. I was personally more into the universal stuff. In the 1970s I was already traveling worldwide, touring many countries, going to the major museums, absorbing and trying to get inspired by the art treasures of Europe.


Interviewers: When did you start painting murals?

E: I was there at the riots of East L.A., the Chicano Moratorium, in 1970, and there seemed to be an urgency and a need. A lot of us artists got together on Whittier Boulevard and started painting our emotions and feelings. I was very non-violent and the violence created a vacuum. We wanted to do something that was passionate and positive.


I: How did you get involved in the mural project at Estrada Courts?

E: We were painting some cantinas on Whittier Boulevard and Atlantic Boulevard. Charles Felix (the organizer of the Estrada Courts murals) invited us to do a mural there. So that was the beginning of my quest as a muralist.


I: During the 1970s and later in the early '90s, you painted several significant murals in Boyle Heights and East L.A. Can you talk a little about those?

E: I did White Eagle's Dance in the late 1970s for a summer youth employment thing, CETA. It's on the Alameda Theater (Woods at Whittier Blvd.), a very good building that was restored by the L.A. Conservancy. My mural is on an emergency list for restoration, chosen as one of the more important murals that has to be addressed. It is in dire need or it could be lost.

In 1991 I did Resurrection of the Green Planet (Breed at César Chavez in Boyle Heights), a SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center) commission. I had four apprentices.

Then I did Bridges to East L.A. (St. Louis at First Street in Boyle Heights). It was part of Rebuild L.A. after the riots, kind of a bandaid thing. I worked with our abandoned youth in a six-month workshop. The mural is near a police station. I was working with a lot of the aerosol artists. I'm not an advocate of illegal art. I was showing them that you can do things legally. I learned their language. They had this hip-hop culture. I was in my 40s and these kids were 18 and 19. I'm the one that prospered more than they did. I got to be hip again.


I: Why did you stop doing murals in the 1980s?

E: I took a hiatus because murals kind of lost their vigor. I became more active in school, developing my skills in easel painting. It is the responsibility of the artist to improve his skills. So, in the 1980s, I did a lot of study. In the '90s I got back into murals, and haven't stopped yet!


I: Why don't you talk a little about the Blythe Street murals you did with Roberto Rubalcava in Pacoima in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

E: We were considered for Blythe Street after doing four murals in summer, 1993, in all the housing projects in East L.A. (including the first new mural in Estrada Courts in 10 years) with youth counselor and project designer Ruben Guevara. That was successful as far as working with underserved communities, which is why I think we were considered for the Blythe Street mural. We did three laws--the law of the street, the law of the land, and the Divine Law. It was a triptych. We engaged in work with youth up to 20 years old. We got a lot of feedback from ex-gangsters who are born-again Christians now. They are the mentors and the role models for the children there. You can see how tragic it is, how important it is to work with these youth.


I: When did you move to Echo Park?

E: In 1990. Before that I'd been commuting from West Covina, a lengthy drive on the freeway. So I set up, and then I painted the local record store, the local pharmacy, the local coffee house, the local shoe store. I worked my way into the community, and I started to meet all of the merchants. Then things started kicking in. Jeanette Napolitano had a gallery, the Lucky Nun. She knew that I did the storefront for this popular coffee house that a lot of artists and writers frequent. She had read a little about me, and she liked what I said about being a street artist and that I was an L.A.-based artist. She worked with the L.A.-based rock group, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and she asked me to do a piece [Under the Bridge, 1993-4, Silverlake Blvd. just south of Sunset Blvd. in Silverlake]. It was a $15,000 commission, probably the best I had been paid so far.


I. After that you decided to really make the Silverlake-Echo Park area your canvas?

E: Yes. I did four murals in Echo Park [LeMoyne just south of Sunset Blvd., Sunset Blvd. just east of Alvarado, and two on Sunset near Coronado and Benton Way]. There wasn't much money involved. I would just hang around the neighborhood and paint, be frivolous to life. I did a mural for a lawyer that I'd been playing handball with because he encouraged me. He's on the Elysian Park Committee and the Echo Park Pride Committee, and he's Jackie Goldberg's lawyer. So I lived here and I just rejoiced and became a full-fledged painter. It was very intimate and I had a great response from the people.


I: Where would you like to go from here?

E: I would like to cross over and do three-dimensional work. It is hard to break into that arena because most of my work is considered very ethnic. Those were the venues and the areas that I was focusing on at the time. I've been in the outdoor advertising business and I've done a lot of fabrication. I know a lot about preservation of materials in working in the outdoors, and I've worked with super dynamic businesses and corporations that are very high tech.

I am a world-traveled individual, and I think I could bring an international flavor to the city and the public art. I study a lot about the art today and all that is going on, but I will have to gear up and step it up a little. It's all about opportunity, You have to create that image for yourself. L.A. is an incredible place in the public art world, there's no place like it. And it is very competitive. There are decisions you have to make, and you have to direct your own career to do what's best for you. I'm very optimistic.



Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles Journal

Published quarterly, © 1997, Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA).

Editor: Bill Lasarow
Contributing Editors:
Robin Dunitz, Orville O. Clarke, Jr., Richard Solomon, Nathan Zakheim
Masthead Logo Design: Charles Eley.

The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles was formed to help protect and document murals, and enhance public awareness of mural art in the greater Los Angeles area. These programs are made possible by the tax-deducible dues and donations of our members, the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, the California Arts Council, the National/State/County Partnership Program, and the Brody Fund of the California Community Foundation.