M is for Murals of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the mural capital of the world (according to the Mural Conservancy). A place where folks don’t just talk about their art, they show it.   

L.A. attracts free minds and outspoken spirits from all over the world. And the home-grown people? They are eager to showcase their talents as well. We live in a town of mini artists, and some big-name talents with Hollywood right here.

Let’s look at a few murals:

1. An interesting set — impressive in size — is a homage to singer Jim Morrison.

First one (above) is in La Brea, south of Franklin.

Second, of a shirtless Morrison, in Venice Beach — both by artist Rip Cronk. Clearly west-side Angelinos love the late singer.

2. Rip Cronk is also the man behind Ocean Swell. If you zoom in while taking the picture, it can easily be mistaken for the real thing — an actual ocean swell. This one is also on the west side, Ocean Front Walk at Clubhouse.

3. And probably the most controversial mural is Lady Liberty, by Mike McNeilly, once located on the side of a Westwood building. 

Behind the statute is the Declaration of Independence, and Lady Liberty has a tear on her face.

The controversy began when the artist demanded he be allowed to paint freely, followed by a trial, then the artist’s arrest. Eventually, the mural was taken down.

4. This Santa Monica Beach mural, by Arthur Mortimer, is one of many that stretches across the entire side of a 4-story parking structure in Santa Monica.

It was commissioned by a foundation and it adorns a wall across an open space from their office building. Much more fun to look out the window and see scenes depicting historic events and the beach than just blank space.

5. And, of course, the famous marathon mural depicted below.

Many murals have been destroyed by vandals — some have been restored close to original form. They stand out alongside freeways or on buildings daring in size and splendor. When driving past, I try to take a moment and admire the public art.

Is there public art where you live? If so, how do you like it?

51 responses to “M is for Murals of Los Angeles

  1. I never knew! The ocena one is my favourite it looks so real! We have some public art, currently I saw a graffiti of Kim Jong Un shown with mini me on our streets.

  2. I haven’t been home in a long time – SO, it’s an extra treat, to know you honor the arts, and to see views from that universal place of promise.
    Happy A to Z!

  3. I love the fact that not only is this are on public display for all to see but it’s free. So many people can’t afford galleries or to purchase art themselves. Really amazing concept, public murals.

  4. I can’t imagine making art of such a large scale. It is so great to see. Interesting that even in the “free” USA someone was arrested for free expression in art. The arts scare people. They have power.

    • Thanks, Mary. The controversy with Lady Liberty began — if I remember right — when the owner of the building wanted it down and the artist insisted he should be free to paint.

  5. I love public art. The closest we get to around here are tags on abandoned train cars. The area is too rural and too small to see the benefit, I think.

  6. Those are amazing! i saw an awesome mural when we were driving to Mississippi, but I can’t remember WHERE. LOL I don’t think we have any murals in my local area, but I’ll have to keep my eyes open more.

  7. Amazing! Murals are an impressive thing. Thanks for shaing these great pictures. :)

  8. I love murals. We do not have many where I live in Virginia. A local movie theater has a large mural of many popular characters from kid’s movies and in a nearby city there are murals celebrating the birthplace of country music.

  9. I’m a bit far from L.A. now so this was a nice treat. –Love murals in general!

  10. I don’t see my comment so I’m not sure it went thru/going thru so I’ll try again. –I’m a bit far from L.A. so this was a treat! I love public murals in general.

  11. I’m a big doors fan so like the ones of Jim Morrison. I can’t think of much public art around where I live. I’m sure it’s there, I just don’t notice it. I will have to walk around with my eyes OPEN for a change :)

  12. I’m from San Francisco. In the Mission District, there are a number of murals that art enthusiasts might like to look at. It’s upsetting when you hear about vandals damaging works of art.

  13. I wish there were more murals around here. A painting is so much better than a cement wall!

  14. I did not know that murals were so popular in LA, but when I was there a couple weeks ago I saw a great sea themed ones with mermaids and a pirate ship on the edge of Korea town. Beautiful artwork.

  15. Amazing! DC has no such outdoor art scene. I’ve never been to LA, but I will certainly pay attention to the murals if I do!

  16. This was a great post. I live in the area and have seen some of these on a regular basis. It’s good to know the stories of how they came to be. Thanks for sharing!
    We Are Adventure

  17. I grew up in LA but haven’t seen most of these you mention! Awesome post, I’m going to come back here before I go to LA next time. Great job!

  18. These are so interesting! I don’t have any murals where I live (unless you count giant ads in the middle of a field). I would love to see some one day, though.

  19. Wow, I had no idea L.A. had so many murals. So very interesting to look at and appreciate. We don’t have anything like that around here, I think I’ve seen one on an eccletic new age store but nothing like these.

  20. Hello! I wanted to say thank you for visiting me the other day! :)

    I’m from the Detroit, Michigan area…there really isn’t much for large scale art other than a BUNCH of graffiti :( lol ;)

    This is a very nice post! Thanks for sharing.

  21. Great blog, Sylvia. I saw many of these places on my second honeymoon of my second marriage.
    Karen Rice

  22. Silvia,

    Nice post on the murals in LA. I’ve seen some of them, having lived in CA for twenty-five years before moving to the desert. There are many great artists in CA.

    Where I’m living now , we don’t have murals on buildings or bridges much, but there is a lot of sculpture art everywhere.



  23. I’m so inspired by this post, I’m adding L.A to my places to visit list. Love the post :)

  24. Philadelphia is all of ten miles away from me and it’s pretty high up in the list of cities with the most murals. The majority of the ones i’ve seen depict famous leaders in civil rights, totally appropriate for the city of brotherly love. It’s always lovely to have art erupt from an urban landscape.

  25. Make sure to drive on the 101 Freeway to see how The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) is bringing back the “1984 Olympic Freeway Murals,” and by doing so, bringing back our mural history. MCLA expects to be finished with this historical restoration by the summer of 2014, the 30th anniversary of the games. At the same time, MCLA continues its restoration of murals throughout greater LA. MCLA just finished restoration on three murals in Boyle Heights. Check us out on our FB page (Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles) and/or our website (muralconservancy.org) to see the wealth of murals in our city. Working together and with everyone’s help we’ll bring back our history and regain our title as The Mural Capital of the World!

    Isabel Rojas-Williams
    Executive Director
    Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA)

  26. I’m a Spanish teacher and every year we study murals. Thanks for posting this. I’ll be sharing it with my kids! Beautiful stuff. Jennifer a.k.a Urban Gypsy Girl

  27. Thank you everyone for commenting. I am overwhelmed and filled with joy as I read through your comments. Public art is important, and I am glad you enjoyed my little post. Hope to return with more photos in 2014 as the The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) is working to bring back our murals. A huge thank you to the Conservancy!

  28. Hi Silvia .. thanks for showing us these – they’re amazing .. and I agree public art is important .. cheers Hilary

  29. We are delighted to let you and your readers know that, this week, The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) will begin restoration of “Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo” by John Wehrle on the 101 Freeway approx. 200′ x 25′). This mural is one of the iconic “1984 Olympic Freeway Murals.” Make sure to visit our FB page (Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles) to see the restoration process!

    Isabel Rojas-Williams
    Executive Director
    Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA)

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