The LA Muralists That Turned Mural Mile Into a Celebration of Latino Culture

Lead Photo: Richard Vogel/AP
Richard Vogel/AP
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Two young Latino artists have transformed San Fernando Valley’s Mural Mile – a mile-long stretch in the Pacoima neighborhood known for its abundance of murals – into a celebration of Latino culture. Levi Ponce and Kristy Sandoval have painted more than half of the 21+ murals, and they are leading the way for Los Angeles’ mural art resurgence.

A law banning public murals has affected Los Angeles’ status as the “mural capital of the world” in recent decades. Now that the law is a thing of the past, muralists have dedicated walls to Frida Kahlo, Danny Trejo, Selena, and other Latino figures – picking up where a former generation of Latinos left off.

Levi PoncePhoto: Nick Ut / AP
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“I think my generation is rediscovering their culture,” Sandoval said to Efe. Ponce is seeing something similar, with more people joining the art movement. “Previously, we didn’t have anything like this, and now, art makes Pacoima attractive,” Ponce said.

It’s not exactly known how many murals have cropped up in the last few years, but many of them have appeared in mostly Latino neighborhoods. Of course, the subject matter is also enough to tie the murals to Latino artists.

Kristy SandovalPhoto: Richard Vogel / AP
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For Ponce and Sandoval, the murals are a way of speaking out on issues like liberty, immigration, and the environment. For Pacoima, these murals bring a sense of pride. Mural Mile, which began in 2012, teamed up with the Museum of the San Fernando Valley and The Public Art Initiative to offer a walking tour. And sometimes, one of the fans turns out to be Selena’s widower, Chris Perez.

A photo posted by Levi Ponce (@leviponce) on