by TOMMY JARRELL
Within the last month, two new murals have popped up in East Hollywood thanks to Jerkface, a New York-based street artist. He has three other murals that he's recently completed in LA, but I won't get to those in this post (mostly because I haven't figured out their exact whereabouts yet). His works heavily reference cartoon and comic book characters, frequently blending two or more from different sources. His work is playful, colorful, and intricate. And although he is not necessarily an LA-based artist, a few of his works are now fixed in LA and help to beautify our urban landscape and add an extra dose of intrigue to our neighborhoods.
Exhibit A: Spy vs. Spy
Okay, so this piece isn’t super colorful. It’s largely black and white, staying true to the original nature of the Spy vs. Spy comics created by Antonio Prohías, but this allows the vibrant red bombs and sticks of dynamite to become even more incendiary against the monochromatic backdrop. These spies painted by Jerkface stay true to their original nature with their elongated, beak-like faces and signature wide-brimmed hats and trench coats that harken back to another one of Prhoías’s characters, El Hombre Siniestro.
Instead of just a single white spy versus a single black spy, they have multiplied to effectively fill the whole space. What has been created for us is a battlefield of mischievous spies who are apparently all plotting against one another. My favorite part of this piece is the white spy holding a lone stick of dynamite who cannot be confined to the approximately 10’ x 9’ space that the rest of the spies are confined to, who blurs the borders of our world and this playful, yet cartoonishly dangerous one Jerkface has created.
Where’s the mural?
It’s located at the intersection of Melrose and Heliotrope right next to Gracie’s Pizza and adjacent to LACC. Other nearby places include the Ukrainian Culture Center, The Faculty, Scoops, and Native LA.
Exhibit B: Richie Rich/Casper the Friendly Ghost, a mashup
This piece exhibits Jerkface’s prominent use of bright colors and his propensity to cleverly remix characters from a variety of sources. In this mural, a mixture of brown money bags and blonde-haired, faceless Richies, decked out in suit coats and ubiquitous red bowties, create a pattern that is teeming with vibrance.
Prominently featured in the middle of it all is a single transparent Casper tossing a mystery bag in his hand. Though the colors are bold and the pattern is rich, I must say I find this transparency that Jerkface has achieved here to be the most masterful part of this mural. It’s not an easy feat to accomplish, but it looks effortless here.
I love the way that it looks like Casper’s ghostly form could possibly be rising out the centermost Richie’s body. It’s certain that the mural was composed intentionally in this manner and it's an aspect of the painting that makes you wonder: Are Richie and Casper one and the same? Has money robbed Richie of his soul? What do ghosts even use for money? When will our own friendly ghosts step out of their faceless bodies?
Where is this work of art?
This mural can be found on the wall outside of Santa Tire Depot at the intersection of Ardmore and Santa Monica Boulevard.
Also nearby, Tacos Al Pastor.
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.