Click to "embiggen" - both photos
Slauson Avenue bisects South Central Los Angeles from east to west. The Santa Fe railroad tracks run parallel to the road on the north side. It's an industrial corridor, but on the south side, the buildings keep a public face, trying to attract commerce and customers with colorful signs, welcoming parking lots, and small cafes and taco joints. On the north side - beyond the barren tracks - the warehouses, industrial plants, factories and junkyards turn their backs on the passer by, with tall fences, razor-wire coils, and windowless walls.
But here, at Slauson and Normandie, in a stretch of a long block, you can see the vast canvas of fences and blind surfaces have been used by muralists and artists to express their creativity.
The sign in the top photo says "Wildasin." This is a neighborhood named after a pioneering family that moved here in 1884. This used to be a farming community. Then a thriving industrial town. Now it's a derelict and abandoned stretch of fences and corrugated panels that turns its back on the world. Except here, on these surfaces, where the human spirit connects it all its vulgar, garish, messy beauty.
I like the color and vivid force in the paintings that add a punch of life to this bleak scene. Isn't it amazing how human beings will make and embellish the marks they make on our world?
That's just my opinion. What do you think? Click to "embiggen" the photos, and tell me.
For those who might see this as a sign of criminal behavior and urban blight, please note - these murals would not remain if the property owners didn't allow them. So that's not an issue. But tell me what you think.
All the while, the vast and everchanging Los Angeles sky arches above all this.
UPDATE: a commenter brings up a good point. The cost of graffiti removal is a burden on property owners. But I can only tell you what I observed. There were no murals on the adjoining properties for blocks around.
Here's an example, just a few blocks east. Are there tags? Yes. Is there trash? Yes. Is it dilapidated, ugly, and desolate? Yes. But one of the reasons I took the photos was because the stretch of roadway had been so unrelievedly not-painted for blocks, and these murals were a sudden stand-out of color. Another thing to point out is that murals and tagging are not the same.
If you want to see more examples of LA graffiti from a better photographer than me, visit this link to an exhibition by Larry Yust at the Fowler Museum.
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Like I said, I can only write about what I observed. Don't believe me? Take a visit for yourself. Take a street-view walk. The murals are on Slauson east of Normandie. Walk around. Head east toward Vermont, or go west toward Western.
Am I naive? Perhaps. Am I absurd? No more than anyone else. Am I delusional? Wish it were true - it would be so much more fun. Am I liberal? Proudly.
Feel free to weigh in. Be civil, as always.