Mural artist Levi Ponce first set his sights on the expansive, graffiti-covered wall in Pacoima—the side of a factory building in an industrial district along San Fernando Road—in 2014. But it took five years for work to begin.
“The wall was a giant eyesore at a major freeway exit. Because it’s located on Caltrans property, the project seemed impossible until LA City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez turned her attention to the site. She cut through all the red tape and allocated over $100,000 to clean up the area. We finished the 10,000-square-foot mural in 12 days, coming in under budget.”
Levi collaborated with Jacques Dupuy, whom he’d worked with at Disney Imagineering, to bring the design to life, along with talented graffiti artists from across LA as well as traditional muralists like himself.
For the artist who grew up in Pacoima, the rewards are immense. “It was like bringing Disneyland to the masses in a part of town where a ticket can be quite an expense,” he says.
“The wall has never been tagged again. It’s a great example of what can be accomplished when we work with and not against the graffiti community. With this mural, the largest public piece I’ve ever done, we are seeing a positive reflection of the East Valley. The imagery shows off our heritage.”
The flowers, for example, represent the Armenian community, to remember the genocide they fled from and that led to many of them moving to the Valley. California oak trees are also depicted, and the woman at the center represents the indigenous Tataviam tribe.
“Murals can transform a public space. We changed the perspective of visitors and locals alike about what this place is and can be.”
Follow the artist on Instagram at @leviponce.
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