By Anna Siquieros
All photos by Richard Bilow
The Siqueiros Foundation of the Arts founded in 2011 to represent artists standing up for their creative freedoms of expression during the fight for the Los Angeles, California Mural Ordinance. Our mission is to represent and bring opportunities for artists to “bring color into a concrete world.” We continue the legacy of one of the world’s best known Muralists, David Alfaro Siqueiros, a contributor to and proponent of the importance of murals for the masses. Siqueiros knew that mural placement depends on and compliments architecture. The ability to bring fluidity and balance within design reflects the importance of creating space for art, ideally bridging and enhancing our connection to nature.
Los Angeles architect Robert Sawyer believes that Muralism has endured as an architectural facade since the dawn of civilization. For centuries murals have worked in unison with architecture to accomplish the warmth and beauty within the design. Sawyer says “Ancient Greek temples we know of as sterling white were once decorated in vibrant colors and were adorned with elaborate murals. Today, we see color on concrete, glass, and steel transformer boxes, parking lot walls, businesses, and sports arenas, as well as residences. Muralism is the final stage of the architectural process and the last opportunity to unify design composition with all of the rhythmic and vernacular elements of architecture.”
At Stardogs in West Hollywood, California, owner Mickey Heynan commissioned 11 murals from the Siqueiros Foundation of the Arts. The largest mural / over 50’ wide and 20’ tall was composed as a life-sized tribute to the unique city views that exist in WEHO (West Hollywood). Originally, this wall was slated to receive a paper wallpaper photo mural. However, due to the size and cost, Siqueiros Foundation came up with an alternative design to add a giant real mural without all of the waste of paper printing, glue, shipping, and installation.
Stardog’s owner Heynan says, “We knew early on that the large areas in the space would be perfect for murals that would help us represent the wonderful community around us and our love for dogs.” There is a reason dogs are called “man’s best friend. As they are loyal, compassionate, supportive, engaging, trusting, and fun companions.
Stardogs exists to give back to dogs, providing them a “home away from home” that exudes a love of animals, offers services that make their lives better and an environment that is tailored to their needs and providing educational services. Offering mental and physical activities to help dogs grow and learn. Our experienced team is caring and compassionate, offering Fear Free services like grooming, anesthesia-free ultrasonic teeth cleaning, and balanced behavioral training programs. Our daycare and boarding spaces are tailored to provide a fun, comfortable and safe experience for our dogs. Everything we do is for the health and well-being of our pups.
At this location, all the murals were hand painted over 2 layers of 100% acrylic latex exterior enamel, Dunn Edwards Ever shield paint and the mural itself with Nova acrylic paint. This provides a semi-permanent background which is far stronger than most typical canvasses. This rugged underlayment will also help protect the murals should they be relocated later. The murals themselves are a combination of mixed media. For interior murals, they are acrylic latex, and exterior murals are generally oil-based materials with a UV sealer.
Our artist and director of Muralism, Anthony Martin aka Toons, director of Graffiti Arts Aubrey Grey aka Flex1 and myself Executive director Anna Siqueiros generally work closely with the owner to develop preliminary design direction. At the beginning of every project, our team of artists provides early sketching which is pivotal and essential to the process as it allows us the ability to begin delineating shapes and mass without committing to a particular direction. During the design-development phase is where we begin to see the likenesses of the actual mural begin to emerge. Even so, these are still preliminary drafts and as such, there is always room for the artist to continue to develop their vision. This ideally continues all the way through until the final mural.
Creativity is something that is priceless and irreplaceable in any society and when cultivated has left many “timeless” reflections that people will forever enjoy and be inspired from. I myself being a student/teacher/ master continually strive to discover the inner mysteries of self in order to radiate the light to make this experience a truly incredible journey for all involved.
Anthony Martin / Toons
Promoting peace and goodwill in the world by helping those in need through the arts, advocating for, and acknowledging all artists for their contributions to society as they strive to Bringing Color into a Concrete World through murals.
Anna Siqueiros / Siqueiros Foundation of the Arts
Graffiti writer’s artist throughout the years have come together to exchange and express different styles in a friendly competition to bring color for all to enjoy in a positive vision.
Aubrey Grey / Flex1
Muralist are often faced with a giant wall with irregularities such as cracks, level changes, bricks and mortar, and other challenges. The beauty of a real mural is how these irregularities are incorporated into the mural, and how the muralist expands the vision in real-time. The handcrafted artist’s approach to handling all the translation is just as much a part of the art form as the original design and concept ideas. In so doing, there’s always growth that occurs with a mural that takes on a life of its own. A good mural takes on a character all on its own and instills the essence of the delineated concept. Our Artists have exacted the method by drawing out the largesse of the mural in the biggest rough forms first, then by extraction, they begin filling in the narratives with the first passes of color and gently blending the background into the foreground and all the layers in between.
To watch the muralists in action is like watching a building being built. First the rough frame, then the more polished elements, and eventually the final strokes. It’s a rewarding experience that people can enjoy permanently much like a building. And, like a building, it takes a degree of maintenance to preserve. Some touch-ups may be required as the mural ages. Some get damaged over time and as such we recommend that the muralist do a 6-month touch-up for the first year and then at least annually thereafter to maintain the mural into perpetuity.
Our well-experienced muralists have come together in unison creating a professional team and over the years have produced murals that have been successful as well as completing these murals in as little as 3-4 week’s time span depending on the scale and the integrity of the wall on which we paint. We coordinate every aspect of the deployment including permitting, materials, scaffolding, insurance, travel, photography, media, and cleanup restoration.
Our muralists are hand-picked by the Siqueiros foundation for their enthusiasm, skill, understanding and integrity. Many of our muralists are stars in their own right, as they have done incredible works of art in corporate and private spaces. The Siqueiros Foundation provides full design consultation and world-class artists to breathe life, love and levity into our space. We’re incredibly grateful for all the help and guidance provided by many local organizations.