The history of murals are rich and filled with expression with blank building walls giving muralists the perfect canvas to create art that is site-specific. Orange County harbors varied works that range from sentiments of important historical dates from WWII veterans and protests from the 1970s to the future like the work proposed for the Laguna Beach Lifeguard Headquarters. Take a look at what Orange County has to offer.
“Among Heroes” by Carlos Aguilar
Logan Street Neighborhood
Washington Ave. & Custer St.
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Local artist Carlos Aguilar created a 24-by-27-foot mural on the side of La Chiquita restaurant dedicated to World War II veterans from Santa Ana. What is unique about this mural is that the veterans featured are from the same location where this mural was created: the Logan Street neighborhood. The project began in early 2012 and still remains to be completed because of financial difficulties. The mural depicts war scenes and photos of the soldiers of which Aguilar was able to paint their likeness from old photographs provided by relatives still living in the neighborhood. Members of the community resonate with the mural as it pays respect to the Mexican-Americans that went to war. Half of the wall still remains to be completed and Aguilar writes “I will finish this wall.” Upon completion of the project, Aguilar hopes to pursue other projects in the Santa Ana area.
“Huntington Beach” Mural by Mark Paul Deren
Between 117 & 121 Main St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
After artist Mark Paul Deren was asked to collaborate with Nike to do a limited edition shoe, a local Huntington Beach store that carried the shoe asked Deren to also paint a mural. Deren, who also goes by Madsteez, says that the piece in Huntington Beach was the mural that started it all. “The Huntington Beach mural took eight days,” Deren said. Overcoming the obstacles of the big size and the consistency of the wall, he was able to finish the first mural of many. You will know Madsteez artwork for his use of vibrant colors and cartoon-like figures. “I try to localize where I am at for my pieces,” Deren says. “I just want people to enjoy what I do.” His collaborations include popular brands including Nike, Mini Cooper BMW, Stussy and many more.
“Porcelain Mural” by Dora De Lario
Montage Resort & Spa
30801 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
The porcelain mural at the Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach took 15 months to complete for Los Angeles artist Dora De Larios. The mural includes pieces of marine life including turtles, fish and birds on De Larios’ signature turquoise glaze. The process of working with porcelain can be unforgiving because the material has a high possibility of loss and the process of matching the turquoise can be tedious. The work reflects the beauty of the California water and beach life.
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“Memories of the Past and Images of the Present” by Emigdio Vasquez
290 W. Elm St.
Anaheim, CA 92805
Orange native Emigdio Vasquez makes the past very present in his mural located in the city of Anaheim. The American artist is known for his depiction of urban scenes including everyday people. The painting commemorates the the protests during the Little People’s Park Riot in 1978. The mural underwent claims by the law enforcement of sensationalizing gangs in the region. The claims further state that his work, specifically this one, promotes, glamorizes and inspires gang violence. Vasquez’s work expresses rebellion against oppressive government and spans three decades with more than 22 murals throughout the Orange County area.
“Grace” by Terry Thornsley
505 Forest Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Laguna Beach resident Terry Thornsley is no stranger to the infamous location of the Laguna Beach Lifeguard Headquarters. When the city council called for a competition for a sculpture or mural for the reconstruction of that area, it is no surprise he was chosen as a finalist. It was his installation entitled “Grace” that won over the commission with his recommended mural design just this year. The mural measures four feet in height and about 34 feet in length and includes two cast bronze figures with waves created in bronze, copper and stainless steel sheeting. The lighting in between the sheets will create a subtle glow at night. Thornsley states that the mural is a tribute to the lifeguards with figurative elements to male and female lifeguards.
Related: Where To Find Art Outside OC Museums
Elle Toussi is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.