This is my portion of a large mural painted by
in downtown Los Angeles this last Summer. UTI (Under The Influence, United To Inspire) is one of the older, larger, and more respected graffiti collectives to come out of Los Angeles, and 2016 marks the crew's 30th anniversary.
is the talented young brother who painted the mandala on the right.
The figure I painted is based on stills of an anonymous older indigenous gentleman who briefly appears in a passing scene from an obscure film by Kent MacKenzie called 'The Exiles' that was shot in 1958. The Exiles is a unique documentation of the American Indian community in the Bunker Hill section of downtown Los Angeles before the area was eventually demolished. The anonymous man I based the painting on appears in the film seated at the Columbine Tavern that was located at Main, between 2nd and 3rd. This is not all that far from the site of the mural (and across the street from St.Vibiana's, the church where I was baptized twenty-something years later). Somewhat of a departure for me since I normally paint from my own reference photos, but I was inspired by his appearance, and by the film in general and felt it was a perfect icon for Los Angeles. This city is characterized by its fixation on celebrity, youth and newness, and while this carries a certain enchanting vitality, I think it is equally important to remember the city's past, and recognize the common, indigenous or marginalized people that have populated it as much as the movie stars. This man's life mattered as much as any other.
Many thanks to UTI crew, Aise, BLK, Skill, Rubik, Chee, P82, the good people of Los Angeles, and to Alberto Barboza for originally tipping me off about The Exiles.