by Sergio Garcia
Sandra Chevrier is a Canadian artist that has received international acclaim as the mastermind behind a series titled, Cages. This series is composed of various pieces that feature the faces of women looking toward the viewer. However, the woman’s face is draped in a collage featuring cutouts from comic books. By amalgamating paint and comic book cutouts, she creates pieces of art that are not only visually stunning, but can be dissected in ways that reveal profound meaning. Fortunately for us, Los Angeles hosts one of these spectacular pieces.
As I was driving down Vermont, this piece stuck out to me, and I had to pullover to admire it fully. When I stepped out of my car and allowed myself to revel in the mural, I couldn’t help but appreciate the sheer brilliance of Chevrier’s piece. While the main focus of the piece is the woman with a mask of comic book cutouts, Chevrier has also included a comic book type caption, complete with a yellow background, and a thick black outline surrounding the art, resulting in a mural that perfectly resembles a comic book panel.
However, it remains clear that the main focus of the mural is the woman’s face. And Chevrier has made it possible for us, as viewers, to read the emotions of the subject through the eyes that she’s painted. The woman looks forward, displaying a strong and fierce attitude. She does not have the look of a coward. Instead, she boldly and fearlessly seems ready to take on whatever comes her way. This emotion depicted on the woman’s face parallels the comic book that Chevrier has chosen to serve as a mask.
Using pages from one of Superman’s most iconic storylines, Chevrier has imbued her art with deep meaning. The narrative of Superman(Vol. 2) #75 is about Superman trying to protect Earth from one of the greatest threats he ever encountered, a supervillain known as Doomsday. The epic battle that ensues between these two superpowered entities ultimately leads to Superman’s death, despite the fact that he succeeds in defeating Doomsday. But why has Chevrier chosen these final panels depicting the annihilation of Superman and Doomsday to cover up this woman’s face?
The answer to that question, at least for me, stems from the fact that women are held to high standards in today’s world. They are idealized and expected to conform to strict, gendered social standards. Women today find themselves immersed in lofty expectations. Similarly, Superman is expected to be the most infallible superhero. People assume that he is indestructible, that he stands for truth, justice, and the American way; he is often portrayed as the archetypal boy scout. These standards that are applied women and Superman are simply unreasonable. And it seems as though Chevrier has chosen comic book panels that display Superman in positions of compromise, fragility, and struggle for that very reason. By displaying the weaknesses and flaws of a superhero, Chevrier reminds us that women, who are only human at their core, can struggle to find freedom from the contrived and distorted expectations that our society imposes on them.
Where can I find it?
You can find this mural in University Park at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and West 25th Street.
by TOMMY JARRELL
Chucking Lights is an artist and native Angeleno who is originally from northeast Los Angeles. He creates inventive sculptures, paintings, drawings, videos, and animations. Chuck is also a writer, musician, and builder and says that he intermittently works construction on the side. He has previously authored and illustrated multiple issues of his own zine, Quick! Our interest in his work began with the beautiful, surrealist mural that he created on the exterior of Furthur Furniture in Sunset Junction.
The mural outside of Furthur is quite literally a sea of red. It prominently features what Chuck describes as a “giant woman with the landscape and a coral tree.” The woman is crouching to the level of an anthropomorphic ant, that is also prominently featured, so it looks as though the two figures seem to be engrossed in conversation.
Surrounding the giant woman and her insect companion there is a school of tiny fish and a number of three dimensional, geometric blocks on the ground. Behind them, in the sky, there are a series of moons in various stages of waxing and waning that add to the general sense of mystique aroused by this mural. The hills, mountains, and mesas in the background give you the sense that this mural is set in the desert, but then the school of fish, the coral, and the starfish on the ground quickly force you to suspend that supposition. Instead, what Chuck has created is a world that is not a desert, nor a sea, but something else entirely. It’s foreign and familiar, and I think to a degree, that is something that we look for in a provocative piece of art. We need something familiar to ground us, and our understanding, within the work, but then we desire something that is going to surprise us by subverting our initial expectations. This mural’s magic is that it make us think and that its surrealist and liminal qualities are immersive and suck us into a refreshing recess from our real-world.
The depiction of this giant woman and this anthropomorphic ant feels almost mythic. And it feels like Chuck is using this mural to tell us a story that explains one of the universe’s grand mysteries. It draws us into this beautiful scene and we wonder about the nature of the interaction between its two primary characters. We wonder why there is coral growing, or fish swimming, in an apparent dessert. We wonder about the moons and how this world was lucky enough to be blessed with so many. We ponder the geometric blocks strewn across the ground. Ultimately, Chuck’s mural forces us to live with questions that cannot be immediately answered with absolute clarity, but it intrigues us and beguiles us, it invites us into a world that is absolutely fascinating. And even in those ways the world Chuck has depicted in his mural is quite like our own.
Where can you find this mural?
You can find this mural on Sunset Boulevard (near the intersection of Fountain Avenue and Sunset). It’s on the outside wall of Furthur in the parking lot for Malo.
by SERGIO GARCIA
Punk Me Tender is a French artist that first moved to Los Angeles to pursue his artistic vision. Though he keeps his true identity secret, he has adorned Los Angeles with various pieces of street art using unconventional methods. He has used mixed media that includes spray paint, photography, and even real pieces of clothing to create murals that generate intrigue and fascinate those fortunate enough to find them. Punk Me Tender's work frequently features women and vibrant color schemes that entice the eyes and minds of the beholder.
On its own, Amoeba Music is a landmark in Los Angeles. And yet, no trip to Amoeba is complete without taking a few minutes to revel in the beautiful mural that Punk Me Tender has created on the back wall of Amoeba Music. In the middle of the wall, a woman with black hair and a black leather jacket stares straight ahead. She is wearing large, black sunglasses with white frames. This helps to retain her anonymity and frees us, as viewers, from focusing on her individually. Surrounding the woman, and taking up the entire length of that back wall, butterflies of various sizes flutter around her. The vibrant blue color of these butterflies beguiles the viewer and creates a sharp contrast between the black color used throughout the rest of the mural.
What attracts me most to this mural is that everytime I come across it I can appreciate something new. The woman depicted has a somewhat blank expression on her face that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, depending on my own personal mood. Sometimes I find that she seems to be bravely looking forward to what’s ahead, ready to move on and get going. On other visits, I see more of a smug, self-satisfied look. And yet, on other occasions, I find that she has a mildly annoyed look on her face. Her alternating expressions seem to be more of a reflection on my own state of mind and attitude than anything else. And I’m sure that each person that gets the opportunity to admire this piece has their own interpretation of how the woman is feeling or what she is thinking. While the woman is the central focus of the mural, the butterflies that surround her add a cheerful exuberance to the painting. The radiant blue hues of the butterflies draw the eye in and create a pleasant juxtaposition of color next to the other monochromatic elements of the artwork. And it's this calculated contrast and deliberate use of color in Punk Me Tender's mural that make one of my favorite places in Los Angeles, Amoeba Music, that much more enthralling.
Where exactly is this mural?
On the back, exterior wall of Amoeba Music. If you enter the street level parking from Ivar Avenue, you can’t miss it.
Tommy Jarrell is a poet, writer, and artist who lives in Los Angeles. He has previously written for Bleacher Report and Throwback. His poems have appeared in The Squaw Valley Review and 805.