Los Angeles, California, is primarily known for its artistic expression, through big-budget filmmaking and small-screen television production. But there are a myriad of ways artists express themselves in this city. Street art is one way and many urban artists create some spectacular artwork with captivating results. Check out these 10 best eye-catching art murals in Los Angeles.
1. You Are The Star: Beguiling Hollywood charm
It’s no surprise to find a mural like Thomas Suriya’s You Are The Star in Los Angeles. The birthplace of Hollywood glamour, You Are The Star offers a celebration of movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, with an ironic twist. Rather than us looking at them, they are watching us.
The idea of silver screen legends as a movie theater audience is an intriguing one, as well as a fun piece of art to contemplate. Notice Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing up the aisle and Shirley Temple sitting on WC Fields’ lap, a man who notoriously portrayed characters with a distaste for children.
You Are The Star
Address: 1665-1669 Wilcox Ave. at Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
Website: You Are The Star
2. Brandelli’s Brig: Classic, laid-back California feel
Adorning the exterior wall of a local bar that was originally called Brandelli’s Brig, later shorten to the Brig, is the delightful mural of the same name. What makes the Brandelli’s Brig mural notable is its unique appearance: it’s an image of a mural inside a mural inside a mural. Painted in 1973 in latex, by California muralist Art Mortimer, the subject of the scene is Babe and Betty Brandelli, the bars’ proprietors at the time.
There’s so much to enjoy about this piece that exudes an easy California vibe and interesting details, such as, Mortimer painting himself painting the mural against the Brig’s wall. Playful, amusing, and fun is what Brandelli’s Brig is all about.
Address: 1515 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90291
Website: Brandelli’s Brig
3. The Pope of Broadway: Picture-perfect idol worship
What better tribute to acclaimed actor Anthony Quinn than to have the Academy Award-winner’s larger-than-life image depicted on the side of a brick building in downtown Los Angeles. The 70-foot-tall (21.3 meter) mural was done in Nova acrylic paint, by artist Eloy Torrez, in 1985.
The Pope of Broadway wonderfully captures the liveliness and largeness of Quinn’s personality. The actor’s pose is reminiscent of his role in the 1964 film Zorba the Greek. A dazzling view during the day, the Pope of Broadway radiates an even richer and more intense appearance at night, when lit by streetlights.
The Pope of Broadway
Address: 240 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Website: The Pope of Broadway
4. Technicolor Ooze: A gloriously messy sight
Bold, colorful, and attention-grabbing is Jen Stark’s Technicolor Ooze. Taking an ordinary commercial building and turning it into something extraordinary, Technicolor Ooze’s artist Stark experiments on a large scale with her mural that uses a building’s exterior wall as her outdoor canvas.
With vibrant colors of blue, green, purple, red, orange, and yellow, in a drizzling and smearing style, along with black and white patches thrown in, Technicolor Ooze gives viewers who stumble upon it a great jolt of excitement.
Address: 8850 Washington Blvd, Culver City, California 90232
Website: Technicolor Ooze
5. The Great Wall of LA: A colorful nod to history & diversity
The Great Wall of LA is an amazing piece of artistry and dedication. Running a half mile (.8 km) long, the Great Wall of LA is one of the longest murals in the world! A true Los Angeles cultural landmark, the mural depicts the history of the City of Angels and its diverse citizenry. The Great Wall of LA is also a monument to inter-racial harmony.
A group effort, to say the least, work on the Great Wall of LA began in 1974 by over 400 youth and their families and it was completed five summers later. Also contributing to the Great Wall of LA project were artists, oral historians, ethnologists, and scholars.
The Great Wall of LA
Address: Coldwater Canyon Ave between Oxnard Street & Burbank Blvd; 34.1792° N, 118.4145° W
Website: The Great Wall of LA
6. Kaleidoscopic allure: Untitled by Eduardo Kobra
Mural "olhar a Paz" Madre Tereza, Nelson Mandela , Mathin Luther KingPosted by Eduardo Kobra on Thursday, 19 September 2013
Created by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra, Untitled is a striking, colorful mural, depicting American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and South African anti-apartheid crusader Nelson Mandela. Untitled covers 4300 square feet (399.4 square meters) of wall and the artist places a focus on the subjects’ eyes, as a way of creating a very intimate way of viewing the art piece.
Kobra’s murals are geared toward producing images of remarkable people who have in some way contributed to making the world a better place. Past subjects of Kobra’s murals include Mother Teresa, Anne Frank, and Albert Einstein, just to name a few.
Untitled by Eduardo Kobra
Address: 1220 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, California 90038
Website: Untitled by Eduardo Kobra
7. Bathed in cool blue: Steve McQueen Monument
An example of classic pop art, the Steve McQueen Monument offers a great tribute to the actor dubbed the “King of Cool” and who epitomized counter-culture rebelliousness, in the 1960s. Created by one of LA’s most honored muralists, Kent Twitchell, the Steve McQueen Monument was originally painted in 1971 in the most unlikely of places, the exterior of a residential dwelling.
With its soothing blue hues, the Steve McQueen Monument is a real stand-out in the neighborhood. It was accidentally painted over when the house changed owners and the new occupants didn’t realize its cultural significance to Los Angeles. Luckily, Twitchell was eager to repaint the iconic figure.
Steve McQueen Monument
Address: Union Sreet. near 12th Street., Los Angeles, CA 90015; 34.0465961,-118.2757317
Website: Steve McQueen Monument
8. The Elixir: Groovy 70s vibe in South Central LA
You could examine the Elixir for days and still struggle to understand the visual’s complete meaning, but that’s part of the fun. An abstract piece done in acrylic paint and created in 2011, the Elixir is the brainchild of artist Patrick Henry Johnson, who funded the mural with his own money.
Inspired by a tumultuous breakup, Johnson had only been working on the Elixir for two months, when it quickly became one of his most popular works. Unfortunately, the Elixir was defaced at one point but was luckily restored by Johnson, in 2015.
Address: 4213 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008
Website: The Elixir
9. Parking by Banksy: Unexpected delight
What’s great about Banksy’s Parking mural is that it’s unanticipated. Located among downtown Los Angeles’ many tall skyscrapers, vast city streets and parking lots, Banksy’s Parking is like the playful, yet provocative anonymous graffiti artist himself. Parking’s simple and whimsical presentation actually possesses a strong message, as a downtown Los Angeles resident group wants to raise money to transform a parking lot, found in the immediate vicinity of Banksy’s Parking mural, into a community park and playground.
Parking by Banksy
Address: 908 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, California, USA
Website: Parking by Banksy
10. Our Lady of DTLA: Haunting urban beauty
The medium is enamel, the style is portrait and the end result is a fascinating mural by artist Robert Vargas, entitled Our Lady of DTLA. Vargas actually used four models to create the alluring female figure of Our Lady of DTLA. The mural’s subject seems to beckon people to the newly-revitalized LA downtown area and Our Lady of DTLA’s gold metallic halo evokes an image of classic religious icon paintings you’d find in many European museums.
While Our Lady of DTLA’s beauty is evident during the day, take the opportunity to view the mural at night, when it’s nicely illuminated by the city’s lights.
Our Lady of DTLA
Address: 600 S Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90014
Website: Our Lady of DTLA
Paint me a picture of Los Angeles
Los Angeles’ artistry comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Locals and visitors are lucky Los Angeles is home to many enticing and mesmerizing murals. Reflective of its surroundings, LA is a great place to explore such art. So next time you visit Los Angeles, check out the museums. But also explore the streets of Los Angeles, and uncover an outdoor museum, of sorts, that is just as enriching.
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