Art+Politics+History+Culture

Social Realism in the Westside

It was brought to my attention that I didn’t give the proper credit in my previous post, Picfair Village, to the appropriate artists. I apologize with the utmost sincerity and I will try to rectify the lack of accurate citation. I wrote that the mural was done by Retna, however, it was a collaborative effort by Retna and El Mac (who have collaborated on several projects), with Retna doing the typography and El Mac doing the representational figure. Moreover, it was directly inspired by a picture taken by the world-famous photographer, Estevan Oriol. El Mac’s spray paint work has been described as social realism as it focuses on everyday conditions of working class people, drawing inspiration from graffiti, Chicano, and Mexican culture. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Miles ‘El Mac’ MacGregor has been painting anonymous faces in public spaces since 1999 and is known for his emphasis on contour lines.

This mural, Of Our Youth (Chato), has become a local landmark in Culver City off La Cienega Blvd. Often I drive down this street just to see the mural on a curvy stretch off a street that has radically reinvented itself from urban warehouse decay into an arts district along the Ballona Creek. Most of El Mac and Retna’s collaborative murals have been executed throughout Los Angeles, but they also have notable works in Miami and  there is also a book, Alianza, which documents their individual and collaborative efforts. In 2009 and 2012, El Mac was featured on the front cover of Juxtapoz magazine, he has had solo exhibits in San Francisco and New York, and he has been commissioned do to murals in Mexico and Cuba.

As a social realist artist, he has followed in the traditions of artists such as Gustave Courbet, Max Beckmann, and Diego Rivera by bringing everyday people as champions and heroes of ordinary working and living situations. An independently-trained artist, El Mac focuses on common laborers, chicana women as conduits of beauty, undocumented immigrants in Europe, and other traditional images of our Mexican and Chicano culture. El Mac is a master of style and has encouraged the empowerment of our culture through street murals that reflect the people, for the people. For more information visit: http://elmac.net/

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