Driving through Culver City you may have noticed a dozen or so liquified rainbows dripping down the side of a multi-level building on Washington Boulevard. No, it's not another acid flashback, but a mural by Jen Stark, an artist whose colorful, psychedelic creations have attracted fans like Miley Cyrus.
Inspired by optical illusions, Stark uses everything from metal to paper to paint to play with the juxtaposition of hues, the possibilities of different angles and the hypnotic nature of pattern. Oftentimes, her pieces seem to be moving or pulsing.
That style comes through in a mural that Stark recently created for Platform, a shopping complex in Culver City that doesn’t officially open until Spring 2016. Described on its website as a “collection of the world’s most innovative merchants, chefs and creative companies,” Platform will include destinations like Craftsman and Wolves, Blue Bottle Coffee and SoulCycle.
With the help of her team — and a couple of boom lifts — Stark carefully transformed Platform’s exterior into a playful visual field. She sketched the design freehand in pencil onto the wall; once it was painted in, her original vision came to life.
She encountered the usual challenges — working on a huge scale on a varied surface, for instance — but perhaps the biggest challenge was convincing the community that the mural would add value to the space.
“Culver City is pretty historic. You have to get things approved — murals, paintings — before you can do anything,” Stark says. “We had to go through that process with the city of explaining why it’s a historically relevant mural and trying to tie it in with the history of Culver City — with all their movies and production and The Wizard of Oz.”
That process partly inspired the mural’s title, “Technicolor Ooze," which pays homage to the use of Technicolor in The Wizard of Oz, but it also references the movement of the piece itself, the way in which appears to be “oozing down the building and taking the location over.” The process began in late September and now Stark says plenty of people are “seeing it out or stumbling upon it.”
Stark’s aesthetic might seem familiar to pop-culture-loving Angelenos, particularly those who watched Miley Cyrus host the MTV Video Music Awards in September. At the beginning of the show, a giant digital projection dripped with bright colors and opened to reveal Cyrus, who slid down a sort of wormhole that exploded into a circular tie-dye pattern. Stark was the mastermind behind that visual madness.
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“It really made sense to kind of team up and work with her cause she’s such a psychedelic and very open and very creative person,” Stark said. “I was excited when that project came about.”
In a “weird coincidence,” Stark met Cyrus through Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and showed her some of her artwork. Coyne, Cyrus and Stark collaborated on the recently released video for “Lighter.”
Stark is currently creating aluminum sculptures that “sit a little bit away from the wall” and produce a “beautiful glow.” If her past work is any indication, we're in for another visual trip.