On the surface, Mary and Stephen De La Rosa don’t appear to be that similar. They have different backgrounds and were raised in different Christian faiths. But where it matters most, the high school sweethearts agree completely. They are working together to make the world a better place through education, starting with their family and jobs.
They both grew up locally and their families are still in the area; hers in Westchester and his in Marina del Rey. They met at Venice High School in Spanish class.
“He was a junior and I was a sophomore and the teacher sat him next to me,” Mary said. “I thank his mom for not teaching him Spanish at home, because if she did, then we never would have met!”
Colorful mini-murals on utility boxes are popping up all over the neighborhood, thanks to talented artists who are helping bring more public art to the community and beautifying some of the area’s busiest thoroughfares.
Noticing that other areas in L.A. had artwork on their utility boxes, NCWP President Cyndi Hench thought bringing the program to Westchester/Playa would help transform the drab, gray boxes into cool, colorful additions to the neighborhood’s streetscapes. She connected with the newly formed Westchester/Playa Arts Committee for support on the project and a call for artists was put out early last year. The committee, which is made up of local residents, business leaders, community group representatives and artists, was delighted by the proposals they received.
“We were amazed at the level of artwork that was submitted,” said committee member and LMU Senior Director of Auxiliary and Business Services, Andy O’Reilly. “The selection of the mural artists was tough! There were so many incredibly unique interpretations of what this community represents. The utility box mural project, and the fact that this volunteer public art committee exists, speaks to the community’s commitment to public art and to our talented neighborhood artists.”
With funding from the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa (NCWP), Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office and the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation (DFCF), with support from the Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary Club, 11 designs were selected and approved by the committee, the NCWP and the city. Artists began painting in mid-January, and all of the boxes are anticipated to be completed by March.
“We’re already hearing great feedback from the community about how the boxes are resonating with people, making them proud of their community and interested in seeing increased beautification efforts,” said O’Reilly. “It’s great to hear that people are excited to see the art, and we’d like to thank the artists who have given their time and talent to help beautify our community.”
The Westchester/Playa Arts Committee is looking to secure additional funding and hopes to announce the next call for utility box artists in the spring.
Playa Vista artist, Jawsh Smyth, works as a graphic designer but in recent years has taken more of an interest in the fine arts.
His colorful, surreal and playful design depicts his alter-ego, Melting Man.
“Melting Man is a character that I started developing to address a couple of things on a global level—like climate change and global warming,” said Smyth, who got some help painting from his children. “But Melting Man has sort of became a representation of myself and dealing with the ups and downs of life. It’s sort of this multi-meaning character.”
Smyth is also the artist behind the 16-foot mural, “Oaxacan Dancer,” located at Westchester’s Cinco.
Check out Smyth’s utility box located on La Tijera Blvd. at Sepulveda Westway in Westchester.
Steve O’Loughlin has been a professional artist for more than 25 years and has been creating public art for more than 15.
A Westchester resident since the early 90s, O’Loughlin’s goal is to use his artistic skills to translate and express the spirit of the community. His utility box painting, which uses his signature knotwork patterns, is an homage to traffic as it flows smoothly and gets us safely to our destination.
“It’s a celebration of cooperation and watching out for your fellow man and following the rules,” said O’Loughlin. “I’ve used this design before, but never in such close proximity to actual traffic. It gave me a deeper appreciation of what the piece is about. I’ve worked with this pattern since I moved to L.A., and I think this is a great application for it.”
O’Loughlin has murals and artwork all over Westchester, including at Covenant Preschool, Holy Nativity Church, Wright Middle School and at numerous elementary schools.
Check out O’Loughlin’s artwork on the box located on Sepulveda Blvd. at Sepulveda Eastway in Westchester.
A toy designer by day, artist Valerie Gresham loves to draw and paint in her spare time, especially when it comes to sketching her dog, Sparky.
Gresham used Sparky, a Miniature Pinscher and his friend, Luna, as inspiration for her playful design that depicts the two playing in a local park while planes soar in the background.
“Having art in the community is a wonderful way to enhance the community. If the painting brings a smile to someone passing by, it is rewarding to them and to myself as the artist,” said Gresham. “As a resident in this community, I feel especially connected to this art project. For me as an artist, it is a great way to give back to the community I live in. I am enjoying seeing the other artists’ painting on the other boxes too.”
Check out Gresham’s design on the box located on Westchester Pkwy. at Pershing Dr. in Playa del Rey.
Gloria D. Lee, Leslie Lauerbach-Davis, Karen Taka and Marion Wong
Four local artists showed off their skills to complete a box in Playa del Rey showcasing the Ballona Wetlands. Artists Gloria D. Lee, Leslie Lauerbach-Davis, Karen Taka and Marion Wong are all members of the Westchester Senior Center Art Class and were the only group submission for this first round of utility box murals.
Lee has been teaching art classes in Westchester for more than 20 years, and the painters who submitted the design thought participating in the utility box mural project would be a great opportunity to give back to the community through art.
Check out the box, located on Pershing Dr. at Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey, for scenes of the flora and fauna that help make up the Ballona Wetlands and the bike path.
Every year, thousands of community members gather for Westchester’s largest patriotic celebration in honor of America’s birthday and to show a little hometown pride at the Westchester Fourth of July Parade. Next year, when America celebrates its 243rd birthday, the parade will also be celebrating a momentous occasion–its 20th anniversary!
Organizers have already started meeting to create a wish list of entries, floats and entertainment, but first they need the community’s help in selecting a parade theme. The parade committee is asking anyone with an idea for a fun, engaging theme for the event to email firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, November 23rd. Every person who submits an original idea will be entered into a $25 gift card raffle to a local restaurant. If a submitted theme is selected for the 20th anniversary event, the winner will be invited to ride in the parade with their family and will also receive a parade swag bag. Continue reading →
Sir Richard Branson is the newest member of the Flight Path Aviation Walk of Fame after being inducted on Wednesday, March 28 at a ceremony at the Westchester museum. An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Branson has had a role in creating or managing more than 400 businesses, including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Virgin American airlines.
“I’ve been fascinated by flight ever since I was a little boy looking up to the skies,” said Branson during the ceremony. “I’ve had the privilege of meeting and often working with many of the geniuses of flight, the inventors, the adventurers, the daredevils and the dreamers. What they all have in common is the desire to make the world a better place and see it from a different angle.”Continue reading →
For more than 70 years, the Westchester Townhouse has been a community hub for local schools, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, community meetings, performance groups and other youth organizations, but now the aging building is in need of some TLC.
While the Westchester Townhouse has served hundreds of local residents and their families over the years, repairs and upkeep of the charming space, which features a stage and hand painted murals, have been deferred due to budget issues. Continue reading →
It’s not easy for the LAX Coastal Fourth of July Parade committee to come up with a new parade theme, year after year, to help celebrate Independence Day. In the last eighteen years there have been tributes to America’s pastimes, songs, icons, heroes, patriotism and adventures, often leaving the volunteer-based committee scratching their heads when it comes to picking a new theme that will encourage participants to come up with creative, inspiring entries and floats. To help solve this issue, the parade committee is reaching out to the community to ask for their suggestions for this year’s event.Continue reading →
Interested in helping beautify the community through art?
We are looking for artists to apply to paint murals on utility boxes in Westchester and Playa del Rey!
Applications have been extended to January 22, 2018 due to the holidays.
Selected artists will be contacted in the new year with painting anticipated to begin in January/February.
Selected artists will receive a fixed stipend for materials. During this first round of the Utility Box Mural Project, approximately 10 designs will be selected to be painted on boxes along major thoroughfares in Westchester and Playa del Rey.
After more than a month of painting and months of planning, artist and Otis professor, David Russell, completed his five-story “Welcome to Westchester” mural in early December. On December 18, the mural was officially dedicated at a ceremony in Westchester. Continue reading →
If you’ve ever wanted to knit a scarf, crochet a blanket or complete a needlepoint to hang on your wall, the L.A. County Yarn Crawl is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
During the four-day event, taking place from Thursday, April 6 through Sunday, April 9, Westchester’s Needlepoints West will be one of 20 stores throughout L.A. County that is opening its doors for newbies, novices and experts for a day filled with yarn, crafting, giveaways and more. Continue reading →