Murals Beautify Hollywood Boulevard
Through a project hosted by Arts Bridging the Gap, an array of murals were created on Hollywood Blvd. in early June – a response to beautify boarded up windows after protests and unrest in the area. Artists include Alexandra Belisle, Emmanuel Castellanos, Antonio Torres, Amy Smith, Gia Z, Gilyon Brace, Hollywood PAL students with Arts Bridging the Gap, Ian Neal, Kalon Fowler, Marcus Dupre, Sei Shimura, Skye Amber Sweet, and Stacy De La Cruz among them.
Artist Skye Amber Sweet painting a mural on Hollywood Boulevard. (Photo by Robyn Janz)
Arts Bridging the Gap founder and executive director Georgia Van Cuylenburg explains that the project “all happened very fast. We do murals across Los Angeles, but we were on hold during the pandemic. When protests started, I reached out to different councilmen and property owners for the opportunity to add art on temporary boards.”
Wally Moran, general manager of Wood & Vine restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard joined Van Cuylenburg in contacting property owners as well as staff of The Hollywood Partnership. “Within 24-hours we had gig approvals from the Taft Building, the Pantages, and residential mixed-use buildings El Centro and Eastown. I reached out to artists I knew. We offered a small stipend and materials for them to create non-political, positive art on one Sunday, June 8th – but as other buildings confirmed, we extended the painting through the following Friday.”
She originally reached out to 12 artists and asked them to invite friends; others, including talented street artist Emmanuel Castellanos, simply showed up after hearing about the event. Castellanos created the now-iconic image honoring George Floyd.
Mural of George Floyd by Emmanuel Castellanos. (Courtesy photo)
Artist Skye Amber Sweet started painting murals in 2015. “I started painting murals to keep grounded and humble from selling so many canvas pieces, through giving back in public spaces to bring beauty to the streets. Murals are about expressing the inner soul of who I am; colorful and vibrantly affected by the world around me, whether good or bad. Color flows, taking a dingy space and turning it into something to ponder and connect to. Connectivity is key in our world; for me it means community, and community is love,” she stresses.
Sweet has worked with Arts Bridging the Gap throughout the year, teaching at-risk youth, painting murals with them and the team from ABG. When Van Cuylenburg approached regarding the Hollywood Boulevard project, Sweet immediately agreed. “In a world that needs a hug, I thought there was no better moment to help than now. All together, and all safely during COVID-19, we painted; and it was beautiful to see how we’re changed by simple gestures of sharing and togetherness.”
Among the works she created was the “Love Tree,” she says. “This tree is YOU, this tree is ME, this tree is US, this tree is WE. The face at the base of the trunk represents unity. It doesn’t depict a race, sex or color. Truly just all of us combined and together.”
Artist Skye Amber Sweet painting her "Love Tree" mural on Hollywood Boulevard. (Photo by Robyn Janz)
She found the experience deeply rewarding. “The children from PAL Hollywood and their smiles gave me a warm fuzzy feeling …seeing them participate in such a healing project was cause to continue doing what I do, what we do as artists, and working alongside such a great foundation.”
Sweet relates that she nurtures the idea of “being able to share your thoughts with a single heart.” With that in mind, she added a plain heart with flowers at the bottom and a blank spot on the sop on one mural; others approached, adding names and poems and phrases within the heart.
“This started when the protesters started coming out for the largest protest in Hollywood I have ever seen. Their voices needed to be heard, the love and fight in their hearts needed to be seen. It ended up being a beautiful symbol of strength, heart and unity within community.” She calls herself “the lucky one” to have shared her art for the project. “To work with good humans, strangers I have never met - that is powerful. I’ll never forget that day.”
Along with the murals on Hollywood Blvd., Sweet’s art is visible throughout LA, and she’s available to give mural tours when contacted.
Sweet's public art is also viewable on her Instagram @skyepoetcom and on her website skyepoet.com; Castellanos work is viewable on his Instagram, @astral_travelin.
(Top photo by Gary Leonard.)
Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.