The Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council last night gave its official support to a proposed new mural by Levain Bakery, which will open its new store on Larchmont this summer. The mural, showing familiar scenes of the Larchmont and nearby areas, will be hand-painted on the exterior wall of Levain’s building at 227 N. Larchmont Blvd., which borders the south side of the Wells Fargo parking lot.
Two weeks ago, on April 26, the GWNC’s Land Use Committee reviewed an initial proposal from the New York-based company, in which Levain representative Lorna Sommerville explained that each store in the Levain chain usually contains a large interior map that mixes images from the local community with renderings of iconic Levain products. Sommerville said the new Larchmont store doesn’t have space for the distinctive map art, but since it does have a large, blank exterior wall, the company worked with artist Janice Chang, who was raised in LA and now lives in New York, to design a mural for that space.
The initial rendering of the mural, however, contained several instances of a distinctive Levain-style cookie, as well as the Levain name in several places. And Land Use Committee member Jane Usher pointed out that no advertising elements are allowed in murals permitted under the city’s Mural Ordinance, which was the kind of permit Levain was seeking.
So two days later, on April 28, Levain held a community meeting where it introduced a new version of the mural design, which eliminated most of the cookie imagery and all of the “Levains”…and won favorable comments from attendees.
This was the version also presented at last night’s GWNC board meeting by local Levain representative Kirsten Bunger. Once again, comments on this version were almost entirely favorable, and although a question was raised about one remaining cookie image, both board members and meeting attendees said the item was small and generic enough, as well as located in a fairly non-prominent spot in the mural, that most people would not interpret it as advertising. After the brief discussion, the board voted by a margin of 11 votes in favor, zero opposed, and two abstentions to support Levain’s application.
Bunger said the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which oversees mural permitting, has also now given its approval to the revised design, and painting will begin later this month. Bunger said at the previous meetings that the mural will take about a month to complete, and the company hopes it will be finished before the store opens in late June. Finally, Bunger also assured board members at last night’s meeting that Levain is coordinating the work with Wells Fargo, and shouldn’t have to block more than one or two parking spaces in the Wells Fargo lot at any one time as the mural takes shape.
Great to know we’re moving forward with making Larchmont look even better.