Los Angeles

9 Must-See Murals by Latinx Artists in East LA

Learn about LA's Chicano culture through street art.

Photo by Sergio Robleto
Photo by Sergio Robleto
Photo by Sergio Robleto

While Los Angeles museums are currently closed for in-person visits, you can still get a taste of art and culture by exploring the city’s outdoor murals. One of the best places to do this is in East LA, the birthplace of the Chicano art movement that began in the 1960s. Inspired by Mexican muralists David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, and José Clemente Orozco, Chicano artists used public art as a way to share their culture, history, and political commentary with a larger audience. The murals did more than beautify the neighborhoods, they helped create a sense of pride in the community and also inspired future artists. Thanks to these pioneers, Los Angeles now has a rich mural art tradition and plenty of celebrated street art to visit. We went back to where it all started in East LA, to look at some historic and newer murals by Latinx artists. Here are our top ten murals in the neighborhood:

Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist
Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist
Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist

We are Not a Minority

Artists: El Congreso de Artistas Cosmicos de la Americas de San Diego (Mario Teror, Rocky, El Líon, Zade)
This tribute to Che Guevara is based on a black-and-white silkscreen by Mario Teror that said “You Are Not a Minority,” but the artist changed the “you” to “we” to be more inclusive. It serves as a mantra to all so-called minorities, that oftentimes they are not minorities in their own communities. There are several other murals worth exploring within the Estrada Courts, considered the birthplace of the Chicano art movement, but keep in mind it is a housing community and be respectful of the residents.
Location: Estrada Courts, 3217 W. Olympic, 90023

Photo by Sergio Robleto
Photo by Sergio Robleto
Photo by Sergio Robleto

Orale! Let’s Cruise on Over to Progression, Aye!

Artist: Sergio Robleto
Commissioned by the owners of First Street Pool & Billiard, Orale! features the smiling faces of Wayne Healy and David Botello, founding members of the muralist art collective Los Dos Streetscapers, these artists collaborated on their first mural in just 3rd grade. In Robleto’s creative rendering of the artists, they’re seated in a car similar to the one they painted in their Filling Up on Ancient Energies (1983) mural. While the car heads West a deity inspired by Tlalocayotl, the Aztec god of the East Wind, looks after them. 
Location: First Street Pool & Billiard, 1906 E 1st St., 90033

Man One
Man One
Man One

Mamá y Papá

Artist: Man One
Located in Chano’s parking lot, is this brightly colored homage to the artist’s parents, Alejandro and Fidelia. Commissioned by Thrillist, the only request they made was that his mural reflect Mexican culture, so the artist pitched them the most Mexican thing he knew: his parents. Behind their portrait is a desert scene and framed by his take on papel picado, complete with objects of interest like spray cans. While you’re in the area, turn the corner for tacos from the Estrella Jalisco stand.
Location: 1907 Gates St., 90031

Photo courtesy of Sand One
Photo courtesy of Sand One
Photo courtesy of Sand One

Vanessa Guillén Homage

Artist: Sand One
East LA native Sand One takes part in the long-held mural tradition of memorializing those that have passed with Vanessa Guillén, a long-lashed portrait of the U.S. Army soldier who was brutally murdered by a fellow soldier in Fort Hood Texas in April 2020. Sand One transformed Guillen into one of her signature “Dolls,” not only paying respect to the young woman’s life but ensuring that her tragic death is not forgotten. 
Location: 498 S Ford Blvd East, 90022

Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist
Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist
Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist

Muro que Habla, Canta y Grita (The Wall That Speak, Sings, and Shouts)

Artist: Paul Botello, Gerardo Herrera, Adalberto Ortiz, and Gustave Sanchez
Right off Whittier Blvd in Ruben F. Salazar Park, this mural was commissioned by Los Tigres del Norte, a popular Nortena band whose portrait can be found on the left side of the wall. The lively and complex work touches upon various themes including resistance, immigration, scientific advances, family life, and key historical figures within the Chicanx community. Included in the mural is journalist Ruben F. Salazar, the park’s namesake. 
Location: Ruben F. Salazar Park, 3864 Whittier Blvd., 90023   

Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist
Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist
Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist

Untitled

Artist: Vela
In the months following the untimely death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, artists took to the streets to express their grief in the form of murals and makeshift memorials. So many murals were created, in fact, that the website KobeMural was started as a way to share the locations of murals around the world. In this mural tucked away amongst homes in Boyle Heights, Vela created a vibrant, cubist-like portrait of the basketball great that brightens up the surrounding area.
Location: 1060 N Fickett St., 90033

Hilda Solis Learning Academy
Hilda Solis Learning Academy
Hilda Solis Learning Academy

Journey to Knowledge / Un viaje al Conocimiento

Artist: Jose Antonio Aguirre
In a departure from the painted murals on this list is Jose Antonio Aguirre’s tiled piece, inspired by fellow Chicano muralist David A. Siquiero’s integration of architecture and art in his work. The mural focuses on three elements: an eagle, Tonatiuh (the sun god in Aztec mythology), and a shaman, or curandero. The mural can be found at  Hilda L. Solis Learning Academy and was intended to inspire the students to soar in their studies and also have pride in their cultural heritage.
Location: 4498 New York Street, 90022

Self Help Graphics & Art
Self Help Graphics & Art
Self Help Graphics & Art

Una Trenza

Artists: (left to right) Vyal Reyes, Leo Limon, Wayne Perry, the Esparza Family (Ofelia Esparza, Rosanna Esparza-Ahrens, Jacqueline “Jaxiejax” Sanders-Esparza, Elena Esparza), Los de Abajo (Poli Marichal, Don Newton, Kay Brown, Nguyen Li, Victor Rosas Marianne Sadowski), Yolanda Gonzalez, John Carlos de Luna, William Acedo, Asylm, Margaret Alarcon, Fabian Debora, Ricardo Estrada, Raul Gonzalez, Raul Baltazar, and Sand Oner
While Self-Help Graphics remains closed to the public, you can still admire the art outside of the community art center in Boyle Heights. The mural is composed of several vignettes by 15 individual artists. Self Help Graphics invited the artists to paint pieces representing their experiences at Self Help and to imagine the future of artists and the Boyle Heights community. 
Location: Self Help Graphics, 1300 East 1st. St., 90033

Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist
Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist
Photo by Keisha Raines for Thrillist

Mexico-Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture

Artists: Andy Ledesma, John Zender Estrada, Rafael Corona, Jaime Ochoa, Dominic Ochoa, Isabel Martinez, Oscar De Leon, Mario Mancia, Jesse Silva, Anthony Ortega, and Jerry Ortega
Also called, “The Wall that Talks,” this massive mural in Highland Park blends together symbols from Aztec, Mayan, Native American, African, and other cultural iconography all in unity with one another. On the left side of the mural we see the creation of life. Winding its way through a majority of the painting is Quetzalcoatl, the ancient Aztec feathered-serpent god who rules over wind, air, and learning. 
Location: 6037 N. Figueroa Street and Avenue 61, 90042Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.

Keisha Raines is a Los Angeles-based writer who enjoys art, hip hop, tuna melts, and making lists.

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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