Spend the day on a street art tour of LA

Street art adorns hundreds of walls in Los Angeles and gives local artists a public opportunity to express themselves. (Photo courtesy of DJ Neff)

Looking to see more of Los Angeles, but are not sure where to start? Well, first of all, it is very valid. LA is huge, confusing and not at all on foot.

There are so many amazing parts of the city, from the incredible food to the hot beaches and excellent sports, but unfortunately LA’s art, more specifically its street art, is often overlooked. In almost every corner of the city, artists have let their creativity take over to create something incredible. Street art is a great way to learn about the city and its diverse communities. And all you have to do to start exploring it is clear your schedule and then go to the Metro Exposition line at USC.

Kobe Bryant mural by JONAS NEVER, 1336 Lebanon St

Start your morning with a delicious Dulce breakfast burrito ($ 8.75), then stroll over to the Jefferson / USC E-Line subway station on your way to downtown Los Angeles. Get off two stops later at the Pico Station Metro stop, just around the Crypto.com Arena and walk to the Kobe Bryant Mural created by JONAS NEVER.

JONAS NEVER is an LA-based muralist who can be identified by their imaginative but realistic pieces and shockingly fast treatment times. JONAS NEVER painted this piece in 2015 before Bryant’s tragic death. It then became an incredibly meaningful memorial to an icon after his death due to the play’s high quality and its location close to where Bryant played. While you are there, you are bound to be swarmed by legions of fans, making it a transformative experience and allowing you to understand the tremendous impact Bryant had on LA

Defend Dignity by Shepard Fairey, 1031 S Grand Ave.

Once you have shown respect, you can take a short 10-minute walk to Grand Ave, where you will find one of Shepard Fairey’s masterpieces, “Defend Dignity”. Fairey is a prolific Los Angeles artist, known for his politically motivated works. In addition to having countless murals located throughout the city, Fairey is perhaps best known for his “Hope” poster, designed for former President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Defend Dignity wants to “inspire sensitivity towards our fellow human beings and the planet itself.” It is a truly magnificent and effective work of art that inspires us to bring about change. It uses only red, white and blue and depicts an idyllic America where there is equality and the country welcomes immigrants. It is a vivid reminder of our country’s mistakes and a call to get better.

Fairey has similar works throughout Los Angeles, and one could spend an entire day exploring the city alone through his art. But that would be another article.

Street Art Street, 4th and Alameda

Hop back on the subway to 7th Street / Metro Center and find 40 Beverly Blvd. bus line on the 6th and Flower. Then take the bus to Little Tokyo, get off at 4th and Alameda, or Street Art Street.

There are many breathtaking murals in this area, but one artist whose work constantly stands out is the Royal Dog. Best known for its photorealistic murals depicting black women wearing traditional Korean hanbok dresses, Royal Dog’s work is fascinating. His portraits convey different emotions, and luckily for the viewer, they are blown up on the sides of buildings so you stop where you are and look at it. Along Street Art Street is a wealth of murals to stop, contemplate and take pictures in front of.

Because there is so much to see in this area, you should consider picking up some food first. Hama Sushi is a must-try for everyday lunch. And if you’re not in the mood for a sit-down meal, head to Somi Somi for its mouth-watering Ah-Boong ($ 6) or to Mitsuru Cafe for a life-changing Imagawayaki to eat on the go ($ 2).

The Container Yard, 800 E 4th St

The last stop on the street art tour is a block away from Street Art Street on 4th Street. Although the interior exhibits are closed, the exterior murals on the Container Yard are visible from the road and worth stopping to see. Intricate murals occupy every available empty space on the sides of buildings in this warehouse complex.

Located on a former mochi factory, Container Yard lets artists’ imagination run wild and gives them a giant canvas to paint what they can imagine. Murals here have depicted everything from random, vibrant splashes of color to moving Bryant tributes. The Container Yard had former artists like Tristan Eaton who have been able to make a name for themselves with his fascinating and colorful collages.

While you’re here, be sure to check out Art Share LA. While not street art, it is an artist collective located next to Container Yard, featuring upcoming LA-based creatives. It’s a free experience and well worth 30 minutes worth of your time.

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