There are so many murals in Los Angeles and its surroundings that you are bound to have walked or driven past a few without having even noticed. In the process, you may be missing out on some real gems. Several have graced the walls and buildings of the city for decades, and others continue to be commissioned. Both old and new murals tell the Angeleno story, past and present. This is the best mural art awaiting your attention in Los Angeles.
Art Mortimer’s “Alhambra Archway Mural”
Mission Road (near the intersection of Chapel Avenue)
Alhambra, CA 91801
This is a 15-foot-high mural along Mission Road in Alhambra that depicts the city as the gateway to the San Gabriel Valley. What is pictured is not today’s valley, but the one from 100 years ago. It is an image of mountains, fields, train tracks and the San Gabriel Mission. The work was funded by Alhambra’s Arts in Public Places Fund – every new developer in the city of Alhambra must contribute to this fund – and completed early in 2011. Mortimer, a prolific area artist, boasts murals on several walls in the City of Angels.
David Alfaro Siqueiros’ “America Tropical”
(Italian Hall, exterior 2nd floor)
Olvera St. (at El Pueblo de Los Angeles near Main Street in downtown Los Angeles)
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Eight decades after it was painted by Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros, “America Tropical” was conserved and re-opened to the public by the Getty Conservation Institute. This is the only public mural by the artist, who, due to the work’s subject – a Native American impaled on two crosses representing Church and imperialism – was expelled from the United States and the painting whitewashed almost immediately. “America Tropical,” showing its colors much lighter than they used to be, has now resurfaced to a generation trying to accept and understand the plights of history.
Roberto Rivera Novoa’s “El Monte’s Centennial”
City of El Monte City Hall
11333 Valley Blvd.
El Monte, CA 91731
One of the newest murals in Los Angeles County, the painting unveiled at El Monte’s City Hall was created by artist Roberto Rivera Novoa and presented in celebration of El Monte’s Centennial by its sister-city of Zamora, Mexico. Delegates of City Council of Zamora traveled to El Monte for the unveiling of the piece that displays symbols important to both cities, including the Cathedral of Zamora, the Lions Farms of El Monte and the El Monte Legion Stadium. The mural was given a permanent home indoors at City Hall.
Oscar Magallanes’ “El Movimiento”
1610 E. Florence Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90001
This 100-foot-long and six-foot-high mural was requested by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission in late October 2011. It now graces the Florence Avenue parking lot near several bus lines that see hundreds of residents travel back and forth from work daily. Its length runs east to west, just like the sun. The east end depicts a sunrise in warm colors, welcoming those arriving to the bus station on their way to work. The west side shows a moon painted in cooler colors, intending to calm and set a restful mood in those coming back home from their daily duties.
Underground Murals’ “Untitled”
606 N. Azusa Ave.
Azusa, CA 91702
This mural faces a green area that houses a couple of benches and two or three large rocks as decoration. The work depicts a large group of people belonging to different eras – Native Americans, Mexicans, Spaniards – and a few religious symbols such as angels and crosses. It was painted by the students in the “Underground Murals” program at Sierra High School, a continuation school under the Azusa School District. For the past 13 years, art teacher Elaine Stricklin and the students that have passed through the program have painted several murals in the cities of Azusa and Glendora. In fact, right across the street from this work, in the breezeway between the Congregation Ale House and a dental office, enjoy other pieces painted by the Underground Murals team.
Related: Best Art Curators In Los Angeles
Dena Burroughs is a freelance writer living in Azusa, CA. She is a CSULA graduate with specialties in Creative Writing and Communications. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.