We’ve all noticed the growing trend within the real estate investment and development sector, as more and more design firm brands seek not only to reflect L.A.’s long tradition of public art, murals and unique architectural flair but also to respond to the current street art–inflected aesthetic of our urban visual culture. The inclusion of interior and exterior murals in particular is now not only permissible but encouraged, increasingly even actively commissioned as part of new construction and adaptive reuse projects.
For a suite of sites in West Hollywood it’s calling Color L.A., Metros Capital’s ideas about real estate take this creative approach to heart, commissioning murals for new edifices that the developer hopes will appeal not only to potential residents but to the entire neighborhood, and anyone who drives through.
“We wanted to think way beyond the usual approach of updating properties with modern finishes,” says Metros Capital co-founder Nick Halaris. “We thought that authentic art — art that actually comes from the community surrounding the property — might be an interesting answer.” So they decided to hold a competition. “We've been floored by the responses.” And they will definitely be using this approach again.
Halaris, asked about what first inspired the Color L.A. project, describes an organic epiphany. “Early in my real estate career,” he tells the Weekly, “I came to realize that there is this fundamental disconnect between the quality of public built spaces and that of private living spaces. Americans can go to work or go to a public space like a museum or transit center and experience the very best of current thinking in design and technology.” The idea with Color L.A., he says, is to bring some of that creative inspiration into our living spaces.
In the project’s statement, Halaris writes about the further importance of seeking out local artists specifically. A judging panel included prominent artists, creative professionals, art teachers and Metros Capital executives. The 40-plus submissions the contest received were, he says, “wide-ranging and impressive; we could’ve chosen at least a dozen more. But these four just stood out to all of our judges.”
The first four winners are Robert Enoe, Alex Zohar, Juan Rojas Aguilar and Kate Pincus-Whitney. To date, Enoe and Pincus-Whitney have finished their pieces, while the other two are about to start.
Robert Enoe’s large-scale mural of a towering young girl reaching down as if she’ll pick up pedestrians walking past graces the exterior of the building at 1254-1260 N. Citrus Ave., on the Fountain Avenue side. Alex Zohar (starting soon) plans a motif of large palm fronds for a pair of street-facing balconies on a building at 561 N. Sweetzer.
Juan Rojas Aguilar (also starting soon) is a Topanga-based artist who draws inspiration from the unique light of Southern California; he plans a scheme of abstract boxes of colored glass panels that capture and refract it. His work will be installed above the courtyard at 550 N. Orlando in West Hollywood, facing the street of the same building where Kate Pincus-Whitney created a parking garage mural.
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Pincus-Whitney is an L.A. native who takes inspiration from a popular local iconography, including vintage movie posters and neon signs. She executed a 60-foot work intended to enliven a drab street-level parking structure by covering the walls, floor and ceiling of the garage at 550 N. Orlando; her work also is visible from the street.
For information on the completion of the two remaining murals and future competition calls, visit the Metros Capital Arts Page.