A Different Take On Mainstream

Graffiti on Melrose

Sup. So I have been extremely excited for this post to come out. I shall not apologize profusely for having this post come out so late and then admonish that it was my busy schedule that kept me away. Because frankly, that’s obnoxious. (We also probably know that I may do it again).

Allow that to be the universal apology for all future posting delays on this blog. But in all honesty, would you like to work on my fieldwork assignment for my anthropology class instead of me? Then I could work on my baby all day and post more than stinking, like twice a month. (But recently I’ve been good about it, I think I’ve been posting at least once a week for a while. Or maybe I’m hallucinating). Well then.


If you want to talk about any kooky place in LA, this is it. It is the only place where crazy is the norm, and normal smacks of tourism. The place is crawling with floor murals, as you can see in this photo, decorated storefronts, and random chairs/benches in the middle of the sidewalk. It is alive with thrift shops, musty vintage stores, tatt shops/grunge hangouts and the occasional shifty eyed drunk. Also, everyone’s hair is purple, and if it isn’t purple, they are wearing some sort of leather on their personage; when I went over to take these photos, I actually made sure to put on my black combats, red plaid vest, and smoked out eyeliner to make sure that I wouldn’t stick out too much when I was taking these pictures. I promise you.
But there is a darker underworld snaking through the alleyways of Melrose. Filled with twisted yet beautiful images, sprayed onto the walls by invisible voices screaming of intense hopes and danger. These are the voices of our underworld, who paint their messages onto the forgotten recesses of our world, so that one of us may stumble into the alleys, and listen to their silenced dreams.
This work of art sincerely struck me. I have no idea who painted this, who labored over the idea, and who waited for the perfect moment when no one would catch him in the act of painting it out. But look at this face, filled with slices of race and color, all painted onto this universal image of humanity– this one human face. But the body– a corporate white side, and a ragged black side. Holding up an image of his heart on a frame. On the white side a lung, and on the black side– I don’t know. Not a lung, junk food perhaps? Definitely something twisted.
What is this saying about the treatment of white americans versus black americans? What does this artist feel that they are not receiving, that would drive him to paint a twisted lung-thing on the black side of the body, to paint his side of the coat ragged and ripped? What are we doing wrong in the distribution of goods, the hierarchy of jobs, the attitude to the many different social classes and races of our world that has driven this artist to paint such a disparaging difference between white and black? We are all one human, simply painted in different colors, But we are clothed in such shockingly different circumstances.
(PS- I’m actually at the Grove working on this post when I realized that my laptop was at 18% and I forgot my charger at home. So I went into the apple store hoping to G-d they’d help me- so now I am basically sitting in the apple store, charging my laptop on top of one of their for sale computers, while around me, a bunch of apple consultants are doin’ their thing. Slightly awkward, but its all good).
Something funny about this picture– I actually walked in on two guys, all dressed in black, spray painting this floor mural that you see on the ground to the right. Because I am an idiot, and I actually forget that graffiti is indeed an illegal act under the category of vandalism, I legit walked up to them, and asked if I could take a picture of them spray painting the graffiti-mural, for my blog. First of all, They looked at me as if I came from Mars. Second, they started incredulously muttering to each other about pictures and blogs. And then, they ran away. Let’s just say it would have been a really artsy photo. Also, never ever do that, ever.Look at the colors on this particular graffiti-mural. A hungover looking unicorn with a trucker-tattoo and women’s lingerie over his hooves. An evil little boy vomiting sickly green vomit in which a dolphin is swimming within. These images are extremely hard to look at. They are disturbing, and twisted, and frightening. But they hold a kind of beauty to them as well. These street artists– Sebastian Walker and Love Annie– whoever they are– have such a vibrant imagination and real artistic talent. But it is more than that, this mural seems to hint at innocence long destroyed, at a fantasy that seems warped beyond repair– at total disillusionment. Under all the dirt and the grime, in the alleys, these people have something to say.

This is the good, the bad and the ugly. Imagine how may people took the time to paste their identities and ideas on to this wall. How many people made the effort to erase other people’s names merely to carve their own in stronger. How many people destroyed and re-destroyed the tags on this wall, just so they could find some warped satisfaction, some warped beauty, within their crafted ugliness.  Honestly, I don’t really think everything important needs to be beautiful; I don’t even think everything beautiful is really so beautiful. Sometimes it’s the ugly thats beautiful, hasn’t anyone felt that way? Just look at this street art– it boasts layers of history and human feeling. How can that not be beautiful?


These murals remind me of works by so called famous artists such as Keith Haring, or Banksy. They too started off as graffiti artists, illegally painting the streets with their messages. (Well Banksy still does that, but now he can get away with anything because he is really really famous). As I was walking through these empty, decrepit lots, it struck me that I had honestly stumbled into a secret world that I knew nothing about. A world where people snuck through the back-alleys of Los Angeles and painted together on pieces of the world that people abandoned. These too are Keith Harings or Banksys; the only difference is, no one has discovered them.


I have no idea if this logo has anything to do with this tagged up parking lot. I researched into the art dump after I took this picture, and they seem to be a quasi corporate/street art group specializing in artistic skateboards. I do not think they are responsible for all this unique and varying graffiti. The graffiti is clearly too raw to be corporate, and The Art Dump smells very legal. But what do I know about such things? I’m just a dumb white girl taking pictures for her blog.


No more reading for now, just take it in.


I think this is absolutely beautiful. Joey “Big Spanks” Bossart, always to be remembered in paint. I actually feel as if I am revealing something so private by posting this here. This street art group- they tagged up this alley way very heavily, but to them, they are more than just some sort of art-turf name, they are a family. Guys, can you all just take a look at you own world for a bit, look closer at your own city, and pay attention to those hidden things your eyes usually slide over? On any normal day, these paintings would have been invisible to me, just a bunch of letters and squiggles on once-white paint. People! You have such vibrant cities, I don’t care where you live. Can you please pay attention to them?
I just want to know who painted this. Who is this girl? What was the artist’s inspiration? Why did this artist choose to paint this woman. And the cracked paint, it’s like wrinkles on a human, it tells of aging.
I titled this in my head, Graffiti on Wilderness. In truth, this is an alley, but this picture just feels so rough, as if the painter took to nowhere and decided to paint his painting. Just right there.
I do not know if this store commissioned this wall art on the back way of its alley. Somehow I don’t really think so, but then again, maybe it looks better for the store. All I know is, I love how the artist carefully pointed around the warning/security signs. I just found that very ironic. Yah, this one probably was commissioned. Oh well.
I don’t think I need to add a single word to this painting. I think it just says it all.
Well, that is all for today folks,
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this. Please tell me if you did, because I so enjoyed every minute of this post, taking the pictures, editing them, posting them, and writing about them. This is the first post I am really truly proud of, and more in the true direction that I want to take this blog.
AND DONT FORGET TO SUBSCRRRRRRIBE! (ON THE SIDEBAR OF THIS BLOG).also, there is something seriously wrong with my comments section and I don’t know what to do with it and it is extremely frustrating. JUST HANG IN THERE Y’ALL. if anyone can comment (somehow) or email me instruction on how to switch to disquss, that would be amazing. thanks.