On Tuesday, the Laugh Factory, local artists, and CD4 Councilmember David Ryu unveiled a mural to honor those lives lost to racial injustice and the movement for social and racial equality. The 148-foot-long mural was created by Black artists with design development and coordination by Arts Bridging the Gap, a non-profit organization that supports arts programs for underserved students.
“It’s as though five artists are standing on Sunset Blvd. holding up protest signs,” explained Georgia Van Cuylenburg, founder of Arts Bridging the Gap, who brainstormed the concept with local artists.
The Laugh Factory has served as a staging area for a number of significant Black Lives Matter and Black Women Lead events over the last two months, with thousands of people gathering outside the club in the streets of Hollywood to peacefully honor the life of George Floyd and others as well as call for racial equity and equal justice under the law.
“This mural is an important avenue for Black artists to present societal challenges in a public and impactful way,” said Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory. “The artwork inspires us to support accountability and meaningful change as we work together to create pathways that heal our nation.”
The project came together quickly following the weekend where racial justice protests ended with vandalism and looting. Van Cuylenburg told the Buzz that she wanted to replace the vandalism with something positive.
“I love making murals, they are a powerful way to leave a lasting impression,” explained Van Cuylenburg, drawing on her non-profit’s work making murals with police officers and school children in underserved communities. “The children come back and see what they created over and over again. It becomes part of their community.”
Van Cuylenburg shared the backstory of creating the mural.
“We are used to mobilizing fast to create murals, so I contacted Councilmember Ryu’s office,” with whom she has worked in the past and who offered to help. “At the same time, David was talking to Jamie about doing a mural at the Laugh Factory, like the one done to celebrate the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” said Van Cuylenburg, who as it turned out knew Masada from her days as a stand up comedian. “All together, the project took us just over a week to complete.”
Ryu’s vision and leadership, in partnership with Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada, inspiration from Tiffany Haddish, and the creativity of five talented artists, made the mural a reality, said Laugh Factory spokesman Greg Waskul in an email to the Buzz.
The artwork was done by five Black artists identified by Van Cuylenburg: Alexandra Allie Belisle, Amanda Ferrell Hale, Noah Humes, PeQue Brown, and Shplinton.
“It is an incredible honor to be asked to contribute to such an amazing collaborative creation,” said artist PeQue Brown in a press statement about the mural. “Yet at the same time, it is disgusting and outrageous that there is a need for such a mural in 2020, 157 years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Nevertheless, the support of the community and enthusiasm for the project has given me a great sense of Hope that the stain of racism may for the first time in my life be getting its long needed attendance.”
The mural, located in Los Angeles’ Fourth Council District, was funded by Ryu.
“Of all the public art we’ve brought to District Four, this is by far the most meaningful,” Ryu said. “A mural alone cannot achieve justice, but it can play an important role to inform, inspire, and keep alive the conversation about the systemic reforms needed in our country. I’m honored to partner with these artists and the Laugh Factory to bring this work to my district.”
“The response has been exceptional,” said Van Cuylenburg. “We have people of all ages, all races, all ethnicities come by, take photos, tell us thank you. It has been resoundingly positive.”
Van Cuylenburg and Arts Bridging the Gap has worked with CD4 since 2016, insuring that resources were provided to children in underserved communities. She shared this time lapse video of the creation of the mural also posted on their Youtube channel.
More on the artists who create the mural:
Alexandra “Allie” Belisle – Core design team artist of Protect Black women
Born and raised in Los Angeles California, Alexandra Belisle is an artist who uses her environment and experiences to capture and connect with her community. Her main focus is to reflect the world in which she lives through multiple media forms. Instagram: @alexandrathegrace_
Amanda Ferrell Hale – Artist of Black Oppression
Artist Amanda Ferrell is a self-taught multi- medium visual artist, designer and muralist. A local resident of Los Angeles, California, her works has been appreciated by many in the public eyes throughout the community and nationwide. She is known for her eclectic style, bold use of colors, and “movement” in many of her works. You can also find her creations in the form of limited original paintings, drawings; crafts, customizations; unlimited publications and commercialized products which almost all are being marketed through her own independent retail company, “A. Ferrell Creative Art”, and other licensed businesses. Instagram: @aferrellcreativeart
Noah Humes – Core artist and George Floyd Portrait
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Noah Humes earned his BFA Communication Arts with an emphasis in Illustration from Otis College of Art and Design in 2017. His work straddles along with the convergence of experience, memory, history, and expression paired with a specific focus to highlight representations of individuals that exist in the world around him. Over the years, he found the freedom to share cultural undertones that vary in style and media. Instagram: @Noahumes.
Peque Brown – Artist Breonna Taylor piece
Born in Gary, IN, PeQue honed his skills for visual art while traveling the world for military service, teaching in the church as an associate pastor, and serving as a community activist. Whether painting vibrant murals to beautify urban blight, creating collage portraits of iconic legends, or illustrating scenes on canvas of everyday life, PeQue utilizes color, craft, and technique to inspire hope and promote unity.
Quentin/Shplinton – Artist Kendrick Lamar
Artist Shplinton celebrates pop culture and his home city of Los Angeles with a fresh, contemporary perspective. His signature work is done in acrylic, watercolor and ink. Instagram: @shplinton
Anthroe – Ian Roberston-Salt – Core Artist & Arts Bridging the Gap Program manager
Anthroe is a painter, muralist, mural conservator and tattooist from Los Angeles. His work in public art began in 2011 while assisting in the restoration of The Great Wall of Los Angeles. He has worked for the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, The City of Long Beach, The Social Public Art Resource Center, and Arts Bridging the Gap. His work often focuses on endangered species and the relationships between humanity, technology, and ecology. Instagram: @anthroe
Georgia Van Cuylenburg – Founder of Arts Bridging the Gap
Georgia is an actress, comedian, social entrepreneur, activists and philanthropist who has dedicated her life to creating solutions for those born into an unjust experience of our world and is honored and excited to spend every day combining her passion for humans, entertainment education, innovation and philanthropy to create a thriving future for everyone. Instagram: @georgiavanc
Arts Bridging the Gap
Arts Bridging the Gap highlights the voices, experiences, and self-expression of youth from underserved communities through immersive arts programs. We seek to cultivate the skills, mindsets, and connections that will allow youth to be their best and fullest selves, as individuals and as members of diverse, thriving communities. Instagram:@artsbridgegap
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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