Walls of Passion: The Murals of Los Angeles

Walls of Passion: The Murals of Los Angeles

Isabel Rojas-Williams cleans a mural while standing on a chair.

With an estimated 2,000 murals decorating street corners, recreation centers, government buildings and hundreds of neighborhood streets, Los Angeles is one of the country’s premier cities for the production of murals.

“They call L.A. the Mecca of Murals for American cities,” Cal State L.A. Art Professor Manuel Aguilar-Moreno said.

And that is why Aguilar and 15 of his Art History graduate students combed the streets of Los Angeles County last spring, going from Boyle Heights to Long Beach, to discover, catalogue and photograph 150 different works of art. They interviewed the artists – when possible - researched the cities' histories, cleaned up vandalized pieces, and interviewed community residents in hopes of creating a historical testimony of street art in Los Angeles and the community life the murals represent.

The murals, students say, have played an important role in documenting the county’s progress and providing its diverse immigrant and ethnic community a voice.

Now the organic form of expression is being brought to the heart of Cal State L.A. with a photo-documentary exhibit of 32 of the murals the students and Aguilar researched. The exhibit – which includes pieces from Latino, African-American, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Anglo-American artists, and Cal State L.A. alumni Kent Twitchell and Paul Botello – starts Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 28.

“I love murals,” said Isabel Rojas-Williams, one of the 15 graduate students to work on the project, which they hope to eventually turn into a book. “Doing this stuff, (the murals) become your babies. Each one of us knows every line, every wrinkle.”

“Paul Botello cannot say that’s my mural anymore, it’s ours,” she added.

For more information about the exhibit, Walls of Passion: The Murals of Los Angeles, view pictures, or to find out where the all murals are located, look at the online map.

Exhibit Details:
Location: Fine Arts Gallery, Fine Arts Building (map)
Gallery hours: Mon. - Thur. & Sat. noon -5 p.m.
Dates: Jan. 31 - Feb. 28
Phone: (323) 343-4040
Free to the public