The Downtown Hollywood Murals Project (DHMP) may be the shy sister to its brash sibling in Wynwood, but that’s not for any shortcomings in its beauty or vitality. Supported by the Community Redevelopment Agency of Hollywood, Florida and directed by street artist and project manager, Jill Weisberg, it's the largest mural program in the county. Boasting 18 murals created during the past four years, it’s expanding with no end date. A backdrop for countless selfies, all the murals are within an easily walkable four to five block radius – not far from Young Circle and the Art and Culture Center. Hollywood’s arts and entertainment district also features numerous bars, restaurants and retail shops. Public tours are scheduled every 3rd Saturday from 7-8 pm along with the monthly ArtWalk.
" Jessy Nite's mural, done in 2012, complements the architecture of this building in a way that makes it an exciting landmark, instead of just a white corner building", says Weisberg. It features candy-like cut gemstones and diamonds.
With their signature style, 2 Alas' Mona Lisa surprises many Hollywood residents and visitors driving by.
Mystified by math and geometry, Molly Rose Freeman created this gigantic abstract jellyfish.
Responding to a request for proposals, Weisberg developed the project’s plan in 2012 and has managed it ever since. Her experience as a graphic designer, manager and street artist during Wynwood’s genesis as a street art hub serve her well. “I try to curate as many different styles and themes as possible, so that there is something for everyone,” she explained during a private tour. "I don't want the same thing over and over again, because that's boring", she insisted.
Hollywood resident Rob Robi is a fine artist who does commercial work around the area. For this project he painted a mystical image that wraps the corner.
The London Police is always creating very happy murals with their comic-like figures they call "Ladz." Artists Bob and Chaz chose the Miami Dolphins' colors because they love dolphins, but the mural is seriously about taking care of the aqua structure and the oceans. TLP always sing songs while working together while, which makes them among the most fun teams to assist.
Weisberg pointed to a mural by Kenny Scharf (the project’s most celebrated artist, so far) that was improvised in spray paint “on the fly.” By contrast, the London Police’s mural, while not projected onto the wall, was carefully planned. And whereas Tatiana Suarez’s shading of her trademark sensuous, moist-eyed women is very nuanced and blended, London Police uses flat areas of paint – whether in broad color fills or detailed linework, like a mechanical drawing.
One of the most recent and fun murals is by Kenny Scharf, who painted his signature characters with a range of emotions. He does this type of mural all on the fly, without a sketch, projection or drawing.
Closer look at Tati Suarez's huge mermaid mural done in 2013. She's one of six female muralists who are part of this project.
Because the project is government funded, community standards apply. There's no nudity or political messages; no profanity. Weisberg is fine with that. By contrast, a private property owner in Wynwood might commission an edgier treatment of their own building. “We try to keep it really family-friendly, but at the same time interesting.” Weisberg’s regular M.O. is to scout out a wall that would lend itself to a mural; she then contacts the property owner and sends examples of work she thinks would be appropriate. For example, Strangeways and Yenta's "happy cartoon" style of illustration seemed perfect for a wall adjacent to a playground. The property owner agreed and then signed off on a design rendering by the artist. An approval committee provides the go-ahead for the muralist to begin painting. Artists hail from around the region and around the world "Anybody can submit their work to me. I have an artist database. The Facebook contact is www.facebook.com/DowntownHollywoodMuralProject
Strangeways & Yenta took advantage of being right in front of the Anniversary Park playground to create a bundle of cute little cartoon characters. They wanted the children to be happy each time they see this fun mural.
Hox is renowned for his enormous, mandala-like murals that feature sophisticated color modeling and virtuosic command of the spray can. His mark-making consists of small overlapping fan shapes that he controls by the angle of his nozzle and his "trigger finger" finesse. Spray; move slightly; spray, move slightly; spray. Repeat a thousand times, following an elegant curvilinear pattern. Easy, NOT!
Daniel Fila and his signature monkey are part of the project too. His trippy and fun style are very accesible and people can realte to it. This colorful mural has such a flow that you are constantly looking back and forth, catching new details all through it.
Prior experience painting murals is critical. "We are not looking for a fine artist that want to start doing murals, and I encourage anyone who is a fine artist and wants to start doing murals to go ahead and get somebody's garage door or wall. Start doing murals and take pictures of those, and that's how you can get experience,” she said.
In 2013 Evoca1 painted an allegorical tale that sweeps along one wall at 2020 Hollywood Blvd. Weisberg interprets Evoca's work, based on their conversations: "If you look closer you can see that the cupid is wearing a mask and he's shooting the white dove, which would represent someone's soul... It's about being careful of who you open your heart or soul to, because there's a lot of fake people, who will try to take your soul or break your heart... The mural is called "Dream Crushers and Posers."
So far, Logan Hicks' mural is the only one done entirely with laser cut stencils and spray paint. That even includes the figure floating in the water. Hicks used paint thinner to cause the drips.
Ernesto Maranje's 150 feet long mural is the longet he has done to date. Ernesto incorporates animals and patterns with a psycodelic feeling. The property owner, who is a surfer, wanted a mural related to the ocean and this gigantic turrtle was perfect for him.
Artists receive a fixed stipend, and additionally, such expenses as scaffolding, a lift, wall repairs and paint are covered by the property owner or the agency. Occasionally, a completed mural has received minor tagging, but it's immediately buffed. So far no artists have complained of the type of exploitation (reproducing artist's murals on t-shirts, ad campaigns and other promos) that remains contentious in Wynwood. "Hopefully companies are learning that they need to get permission and pay artists before using their work for commercial purposes," said Weisberg.
Melina's Lingerie Shoppe boasts the only mural painted inside a storefront. The proprietor, Elsie Johns, is 92 years old and she still runs this "slightly scandalous" shop, that was first opened by her parents as a children's clothing store.
Diana Contreras' (aka Didi Rok) painted two bathing beauties – one blonde, one redhead – in a saucy fifties style. They perfectly suit their setting.
Ruben Ubiera painted one of the first murals for the project back in 2012 on 1925 Harrison Street. He captures the arts district's live music energy, combining realism with flashes of geometry, swirls and splashes.
Tatiana Suarez created this huge mural in 2013. At that time it was her largest wall with the most characters. She painted six beautiful mermaids with a rainbow of hair colors. They progress from magenta to pale yellow and green. It's one of the favorite backdrops for selfies in yoga poses.
Eduardo Mendieta & Jay Bellicchi aka Emo & Remote collaborated on this mural back in 2013. Emo has a very loose style of working, while Remote interweaves his signature text-filled patterns. And if you look closely, you'll read "Love" over and over.
Weisberg grew up in Hollywood, and her pride and enthusiasm for the project are evident when she gives a tour. She doesn’t hesitate to sing along with the artists during their long hours of painting and she even assists in the execution when artists invite help. Beyond the exposure that can lead to mural commissions elsewhere, participation in the DHMP may yield commercial exhibition opportunities. Gallery 2014 (2014 Harrison Street) has shown some of Emo's (Eddie Mendieta) paintings, and L/Mercado Studios (2000 Harrison Street) plan to join this crossover trend. After all, street artists are not limited by format, scale or venue, and many of their fans want to take home more than just a selfie.
Here’s a link to the artists and dates of their mural creations.
Austalian artist "Rone banged this mural out in only two-and-a-half days with less than three gallons of latex paint, exclaimed Weisberg. "He's one of the most amazing people to watch work, because of his techinque and how quickly the mural comes together."