The crowd may have been small, but expectations were high for the new mural that was officially dedicated at Dockweiler Beach on Wednesday.
Representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s Civic Arts Program gathered to pay special tribute to the new mural and to artists David Russell and Roberto Del Hoyo who spearheaded the project.
“You’ve really brought something new and exciting to the beach which is hard to do given the backdrop here,” said Steven Napolitano, deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. “It’s just so exciting to see and such a great testimony when people work together and do something good.”
“I hate graffiti. I think it’s such an uncaring act, a selfish act, but I love graffiti art. I think it really is the most energetic art form that is out there today.
“This behind me is going to be here for a long time,” Napolitano said. “I want to point out to you that, to me, this is not graffiti. This is graffiti art. This is a wonderful collaboration between the Dept. of Beaches and Harbors, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and our artists here from MobileMuralLab.”
The work on the mural, which was part of a six-month process on the part of Russell and Del Hoyo, was also commended by the Director of Civic Art for the L.A. County Arts Commission Margaret Bruning. She refers to the mural as a “creative prototype.”
“The beautiful thing about civic art is that it connects people with each other, and it connects each other with our humanity, and that’s what this project represents,” she said.
Russell and Del Hoyo seem to take the praise in stride, focusing on the impact they hope the project has on the teens involved.
“Part of the strategy to provide a graffiti mitigation project was we felt it was very necessary to connect with the youth that were interested in graffiti art and provide them with an opportunity to redirect their creativity in a positive way and on a bigger scale,” Russell told the crowd.
The mural, which is entitled “Where we are from,” honors the birthplaces of people who helped with the Nite-Write projects held over the summer, including teens like Stephanie Argueta, a student at John Burroughs High School in Burbank. The tenth-grader showed up at the dedication after spending two weekends working with Russell, Del Hoyo, and other teenagers on the mural which wraps around the beach’s concession stand, restrooms and a retaining wall on the beach.
“I’ve always been interested in art, and I like graffiti,” Argueta said. “Just the thought of doing something that’s going to be here for a very long time.”
The mural also pays homage to Bernard Isadore Dockweiler, who was active in local politics in the early 1900s and advocated for preserving local beaches. The mural spells out his name.
Napolitano said the mural is an important project that shows how powerful a collaboration can be.
“It’s such a great testimony to what people can do when they work together, and they come up with something good,” Napolitano said. “There’s a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things, and this is the right way to do it to get people involved and make art out of graffiti.”