So, how did you do with our recent LA Quiz? Our most recent quiz featured a distorted image of a massive (70ft x 106ft) mural*. Did you recognize the mural as the West Hollywood Library’s Peace Elephant? You did? Great. Now…do you know where it’s at? Yes, yes, the library, but what part of the library could feature a mural that big ? See the street view of the library below- there’s no hint of a mural from the street. Ah, now look at the second photo below.
True to the concept of the genre Street Art (as opposed to Public Art) you’ll find the mural on the very back wall of West Hollywood Library’s five story parking structure. Finally, who was the artist? Did you recognize a particular style? I hope you recognized the Peace Elephant as the work of Shepard Fairey. By the way, in spite of its obscure location the Peace Elephant mural has become a popular piece of art.
Found in nearly every major city world wide, Street Art evolved from common graffiti to the level of urban art or guerilla art. While the media morphed from spray paint to wheatpasted posters, paints and stickers they still share common surface- walls- of any kind. The surface could be the side of a truck, bus, subway or wall of any kind. Many “artists” spread their images surreptitiously and (hopefully) build a reputation based on the quality of their unsolicited images.
Shepard Fairey and Peace Elephant happens to be a fine example. He began as a street artist and early on gained notoriety with his Obey stickers. His fame grew with his Barack Obama Hope poster and he has succeeded in crossing over into commercial lines with his posters and clothing. Yet, he still creates street art. Peace Elephant, though he was sought out to do it (and from what I understand- without compensation), and though the massive mural required a crew of several people quite a number of hours to complete it is on a wall- on the back of a garage.
There are actually three massive images on the garage (collectively called the West Hollywood Murals). In addition to the Shepard Fairey the other two murals were created by: RETNA (aka Marquis Lewis), and Kenney Scharf– also highly respected visual artists. These works came about through a collaboration between Vanity Fair and Cadillac via a partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), and the City of West Hollywood. If you have an interest in contemporary art go take a look. Check out all three murals. The West Hollywood Library is located at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, CA90069, (see map below).
*The featured image to this post is courtesy of Google maps. (The view of the mural is blocked by chain-linked fence covered with security screening. The site directly behind the library is currently in the beginning stages of a construction project.)