The Top Los Angeles Street Art Locations
Places like 5 Pointz made New York’s name when it came to street art. LA has never had somewhere as instantly recognisable as that but it isn’t without its locations. Here’s our list of Los Angeles street art locations that are worth checking out.
Murphy Ranch has a pretty interesting history. Built by Nazi sympathisers in the thirties, it was supposed to serve as a base of operations for Nazi activities in America. This plan fell apart the day after Pearl Harbour when local police stormed the ranch and detained fifty people who worked there.
The buildings eventually ended up in the hands of the City of Los Angeles who have demolished a number of the buildings over the years. The ones that remain have become hotspots for graffiti. The ranch is located along a popular hiking spot in the Pacific Palisades. For artists, this is the best of both worlds. Far enough from the city to be a quiet place to work while still having enough foot traffic to get their pieces seen makes it a stand out among Los Angeles street art locations.
For those interested in seeing the work at the ranch, it’s advisable to get in it soon. The city stepped up its demolition of the site early this year and what remains of Murphy Ranch may not be around a lot longer.
The L.A River
The L.A. River is a place everyone in the world has seen. From the chase scene in Terminator 2, to creating your own chases in GTA: San Andreas, it’s iconic. Something you don’t see in the movies is how much the river is a battleground between graffiti artists and the city. The enormous stretches of blank concrete make it an irresistible canvas to L.A street artists. You don’t need to travel too far along the edges of the river to find some pieces hidden away.
The river is worth checking every now and again as new art is constantly appearing. The city has been combating graffiti for years and spends millions repainting the river back to the concrete gray. Despite their work being covered up, L.A’s graffiti artists have shown they’re more than willing to keep fighting back with new pieces.
Finding art along the river takes a bit of leg work and some common sense about where to walk and where not to. There’s enough to make it worthwhile.
The Art District
This one’s pretty obvious. The Art District has come up in the middle of what is otherwise an industrial wasteland. The area wasn’t exactly built to look pretty so it has some more freedom than other galleries in L.A. A mix of warehouses and galleries, there’s a lot of space to work into and enough artists to take advantage of it.
As Los Angeles street art locations go, The Art District is a great place. It provides a lot more freedom to artists than galleries in other areas and comes without the legal grey areas of working outside. Like art districts in most cities though, it’s a toss up between the art and the gentrification. It’s hard to know which way it will fall; in favour of the art or not, but for the moment there’s a lot to take from the area.
As a compromise between the street artists who hang out around Venice Beach and the city attempting to keep the place clean, Venice Beach has been given a number of Graffiti Walls. It’s a great platform for artists and shows the city is willing to find solutions for everyone’s benefit.
There’s a lot of creativity here but it’s not without its downsides. To work on the walls you need a permit. Even though these are easy to get, it kind of defeats the purpose. The free access to permits also means any pieces that are painted won’t last very long on the limited wall space. Having permits in place seems to make it more likely that pieces will be painted over. In the wild, an artist is more likely to respect a piece but handing someone a piece of paper that says they can cover any piece brings a lot of entitlement.
Maybe that’s the American Dream. Either way, make sure you photograph your pieces.