The Terribly Wonderful Strorefront Murals of East Hollywood
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for around 4 of the last 7 years, much of that time has been spent in various regions of Hollywood with a couple of long-term stints in the glorious burgeoning hipster mecca that is East Hollywood. East Hollywood has many intriguing features including great ethnic food in Little Armenia and Thai Town, hastily renovated art deco apartment buildings, and adequately gentrified shopping districts in Los Feliz and Silverlake. But one of my favorite parts of East Hollywood has always been the murals, specifically the bad ones. There are plenty of totally decent murals in East Hollywood, and tons of murals across Hollywood at large, but there’s a special flavor of mural that seems to proliferate north of Melrose and east of Western. They’re mostly painted on storefronts, seemingly by artists of widely varying skill-level, and often contain extremely specific depictions of products and brands.
This weekend, while my wife was out winning the Rose Bowl Flea Market (its exactly like the football-Rose Bowl but with distressed furniture), I took a day trip east of Western and into my old neighborhood to snap a few pictures of some of my favorites.
Karate Wall – Santa Monica and Alexandria
Store Owner: Sure nephew, you can explore your emerging interest in art by painting a mural on my store wall! What do you want to paint?
“Artist”: I’m thinking Fat Elvis doing a Flying Dragon Kick at two dudes, with one of the dudes on the other’s shoulders.
Store Owner: Amazing! But can I suggest one thing? Make the two dudes Italian mobster types.
Swap Meet – Santa Monica and Vermont
Around the corner from the Los Angeles City College is this behemoth of an indoor swap meet. The entire thing is covered in murals, on the left-hand side is a mural of a group of children playing around with depictions of well known cartoon characters, covering the rest of the building are a smattering of products that you might expect to find inside the swap meet.
Homer Simpson, Mickey Mouse, and Papa Smurf are gettin DOWN! When the Sun’s got his shades on then you KNOW its a party.
I think that’s Tweetie Bird…and I believe that thing next to Tweetie is a clown. It also appears that Tweetie Bird is either holding a corn dog or a baton of some kind. Perhaps not all of the children are at this party willingly?
You can find anything at these places, Pepsi, Fritos, a Jansport backpack, slightly used spaceships.
They also carry a wide selection of movies (which I’m SURE are completely legitimate).
If you look closely here you’ll see that one of the DVD’s is actually a two pack containing both Scarface AND Casino. This makes me think that they thought a lot about their customer base before painting this.
This swap meet is haunted by poltergeists wearing long-sleeve shirts under tank tops.
What…the fuck is going on here? No time to find out. Right after taking this picture I was kindly asked to leave the premises by security, now I feel like a real journalist/suspected terrorist/homeless person!
Flower Gun – Santa Monica and Madison
“Yeah MAN…we’ll paint a gun MAN…and like it’ll be made of FLOWERS MAN. And then next to it we’ll paint an African Child Soldier MAN.”
“And then around the corner we’ll blow their minds with global warming MAN. We’re gonna open their eyes MAN.”
Mural of Strother Martin – Fountain and Kingsley
Jeff Bridges is…Wistful Einstein.
French Preschool/Gnome Feast – Fountain and Harvard
This place advertises itself as a “French Preschool”, while I don’t know what that means I was a bit more concerned about something else…
…those Gnomes seem to be having a damn good time right? But here’s my worry; this is a preschool, where are the children? Gnomes are great and what-not…but shouldn’t their be children playing with them?”
There are the children. In that pot, being mixed together with tomatoes and sold as a stew. Those dirty child-feasting gnomes are even sharing the kid-stew with a frog wearing shorts. Disgusting.
Sewing Machines & Vacuum Repair – Fountain and Hobart
- How about we wait until you perform a service for me and I thank you before we get to the whole “you’re welcome” part of the transaction.
These are not the droids you are looking for. (Also, “shampoors” is my new favorite word)
Honorable Mention: Elliot Smith Wall – Sunset and Fountain-ish
OK now I’ve seen “Exit Through The Gift Shop”, I like street art, but can we all agree that writing your stupid made up nickname in puffy letters is not art? Dicks.