Soto Street Bridge is below, with Elephant Hills watching over. To think that on the other side of those hills is a high school, with high fences and bars on windows and toilet stalls without doors and broken mirrors, and hundreds of lockers throughout the campus, but no one can use them.
Today I ventured up Moonstone, and then to Onyx and it turns out that Rose Hills has a series of streets named after minerals and other geologically difficult to pronounce words in Spanglish, so all the tias say, “Voy a onxs, y moon.”
At the top of the hill is an altar to La Virgen de Guadalupe. But does that make her La Virgen de Rose Hills or El Sereno?
A constant fixture on York Boulevard, I call him tio out of respect. Dehydration, maybe a poor night’s rest give him a haggard expression in the top image. He hasn’t shaved and I almost didn’t recognize him, but it might be the light of day illuminating all these details.
Comparing the two images it’s obvious that he’s losing weight, but that could mean anything and I would never want to make an assumption about someone’s health.
Alhambra, California – Valley Boulevard is dense with traffic and bicyclists. Most of the population makes do with sidewalks, parking lots or weaving in and out of traffic. Bike lanes would make sense in this predominantly ethnic Chinese community.
That stare off into the distance. This child is obviously not on board with the traditional garb of Chinese New Year. Mom on the other hand gets to wear her Ambercrombie hoodie. Chinese New Year in Alhambra, California feels like a commercial enterprise, a chance to sell merchandise while honoring tradition.
The embrace of American culture by ethnic Chinese has a tinge of this photo – honor and Ambercrombie. Or red envelopes with gift cards to Best Buy. Or kiosks selling bootleg Disney hats and other merchandise.
Don has a special way of articulating world events’ in a few minutes. Though he also mentions hit men and Michigan congressmen who owe him money. I believe every word of it, because he sells it with such conviction.
“The commandments are all mixed up, they come out in blurted suggestions. But that’s us! Those are meant for all of us. Because we’re all the same person, doesn’t matter what you did or who you did. THOU SHALT NOT KILL. But it really should be THOU SHALL NOT KILL THYSELF, because that’s what we’re doing.”
Try to make sense of the cat staring back at you from the street. It’s art, graffiti, vandalism. It’s a sign of the times and the public canvas of a local artist.
Meet your neighborhood cat, Re-run.
A calling card in plain sight Re-run’s signature cat stands out among the blocks of letters and gang tags. Re-run’s work gets notice, because it’s cartoon art and it’s non-threatening. Only on private property, and defacing local businesses.
The cat poses an interesting question to people who complain about graffiti: Do you hate graffiti or art in general? Where do the two separate and why is this artist going through all the trouble?
Re-run calls North East Los Angeles home. He has an Instagram. This interview was conducted via email over the course of one week. I don’t know Re-run personally, but the way his work seems to find its way into my everyday peripheral makes me think that he’s around the corner.
* Why’d you choose a cat as your tag?
Re-run: I chose the cat because they come easy to me to draw and I’m not so great at my letters at the time. Also cats are amazing creatures.
* Los Angeles allows murals now. Does that take away from the community of artists hitting up walls? This person gets to put their art up legally, but you might not be able to do that, so they get to white wash your stuff.
Re-run: Eh. It doesn’t bother me so much, because I like doing it illegally. It has more of a sense of a voice in the streets and every week there could be a new message.
* Do you want to make a living as an artist later on in life? Are you going to go to art school?
Re-run: Yeah, I would like to make my art into a career. Thats like my dream. School? I don’t even know, I’m still thinking about it.
* What do you think of Banksy?
Re-run: He’s cool. Not one of my favorite artists. But cool work. Respect the guy.
* How has the changing Highland Park impacted you?
Re-run: It didn’t really impact me so much. But the streets seem more safe.
* You get around. I’ve seen your work in just about every corner of the neighborhood. Are you ever afraid of getting caught?
Re-run: Afraid of getting caught? Eh. Yes and no. But who likes going to jail?… I try not to think of it, because I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not hurting anyone it’s just art and art is what I love doing.
* What goes through your head before you slap a tag? Are you thinking about placement, visibility or is it just a whatever type of thing?
Re-run: When I put up a tag or slap I look for visibility for the cars and people to see. Sometimes I’ll just go around anywhere and post up on a boring day.
* With your art being out in public everyone gets a chance to be your critic. What have you heard of your art from other people?
Re-run: Well I haven’t heard anything bad so that’s good. The feedback I get back is very positive. They love the cat and it motivates me to paint the streets.
* There are the taggers who simply tag for crews and then there are those who paint toons. Do you consider those two people the same type of tagger?
Re-run: Yeah, I consider the two the same type of tagger. But some of them do it for different reasons fame or for the art.
* How has the gang violence changed since you started painting the cat?
Re-run: The gang violence is chilled but still around, like I’ve been chased by a few gang members and hit upped also. I’ve heard it was worse at one time not so much now.
* You painted a memorial for your mom. Did you do anything else to honor her?
Re-run: Well my mom always wanted me to finish school. So that’s what I’m doing. I know that would make her very happy. And also painting, getting better, trying to make a name for myself in the art world.
* You mentioned creating a message with your art. What do you think the cat represents to you?
Re-run: The cat I think represents me inna way and also it tells the people I’m here in the community. I’m not just another ant in the ant hole. I try to be different leave a piece of me to the public.
Precisely why I avoid wearing any type of brightly colored characters on any article of clothing these days. PICTURE: LATINO WITH GRAPHIC TEE. That could be me.
During the NELA Art Walk, March 2014 I felt like I could have knocked off a few items off my imaginary scavenger hunt list.
PAINTING: Luchador breastfeeding a baby. CHECK!
At Mi Vida boutique artist Rebekah Tarín’s work is on display. A colorful arrangement of fertility, strength and roots. Her color choice is vibrant, while maintaining a sense of connection to the world, either through her detail in an article of clothing, or a hand reaching from the earth. Also, Luchador breastfeeding a baby.
PERSON: Shopkeeper next to a electrified orb.
Pattyes Closet II is a hodgepodge of artifacts, both new and old. And older. Vintage boutiques send me reeling back into childhood nightmares of mother/grandmother perusing items, and forcing me to stand without touching anything. Horror.
Headless mannequins are in now. Haven’t you heard?
EVENT: Poetry reading at Pop-Hop books & print. Diana Arterian read a series of poems, and arrangements of last words from famous people. The morbidity of the evening was punctuated by the sound of Girl Scouts shouting, “COOKIES” outside the doors of the reading. The somber mood had to really work to win back the audience.
PEOPLE: Band playing in front of revitalized panaderia. Elsa’s Panaderia has been a part of Highland Park since before our parents ambled down the streets. Last year I visited the shop when they changed owners, and it’s all been pleasant and colorful.
PAINTING: Tree that bleeds out into the world with roots. Olivia Barrionuevo‘s work required tiptoeing about. Archival pigment print is one thing, but the painted roots bleeding out into the gallery space at Avenue 50 Studio got people talking. The artist was surrounded by patrons all night, so unfortunately she was unavailable for comment.
THING: Candle in shoe. (Shoe must be of the high heel variety).
PLACE: Record shop grand opening across the street from another record shop. Eagle Rock’s Permanent Records have set up shop on York Boulevard. Across the street from Wombleton Records. Last year I interviewed both shop owners and everything seemed to work out. York Boulevard in Highland Park now has three vinyl shops including Gimme Gimme Records further down on Ave 46.
Now Permanent Records plans to phase out their Eagle Rock shop, and move over their stock to the York Blvd. location. Are there enough vinyl junkies to support both shops?
All in all it was a great art walk, with art and nachos. What more could I ask for?