Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles

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Name: Adam ‘Codak’ Smith


City of origin: I was born in Stillwater Oklahoma, August 1, 1974 but my family moved to Portland Oregon when I was two years old and I lived there from the time I was two until I was seventeen.


How did you find yourself in the arts? I come from an arts background. My mom has been teaching art, primarily interior design, since I was a very small child. There are actually pictures somewhere of me when I was two or three months old, in a crib next to her desk while she was teaching art classes. Growing up, my stepfather was an Architect, so I grew up in a “Modern Contemporary” sort of environment of architecture and art. When I was younger I was really into comic books. I basically started drawing, trying to emulate my favorite superheroes. I really liked Wolverine and Punisher and stuff like that. Around sixth or seventh grade I started to sell my drawings of comic characters to classmates at lunch for like 10 cents. It was pretty funny. When I was about thirteen I got my first skateboard. At the same time, I was being introduced to bands like Public Enemy, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, NWA, old reggae like Bob Marley and Lee Scratch Perry. I was introduced to a wide range of music from the different friends that I had. We would skate all over Portland and cause trouble but I will never forget the first time I saw someone do a tag; it was my freshman year of high school and this kid wrote Celic. One day we were all in a little group and he just whips out a two-finger marker and does this tag. We all asked, what did you just do? That’s awesome!


Where do you draw your inspiration? I have always really liked the simplicity of line. I think it comes from my family. There were always blue prints, schematics and plans lying around. Just seeing my step dad out on his worktable, using his compass and drafting all these lines. In a way, it’s scientific and artistic because it’s engineering and everything all put together. Even though I don’t think mathematically, I always liked the aesthetic. When I started to experiment with what I was doing I noticed that the organic shapes that I was making were made stronger by the strength of the line quality that I based around the shapes. Studying design taught me how to break out compositionally in space. Design helped me to break out in relation to the work I was creating on walls and canvases. When I moved to LA, I saw Kofie’s work and thought, this guy is thinking very similarly. It was as if I needed to see someone else thinking that way to really help spur me into experimenting with it even more. One of my favorite artists of all time is an artist named Joker. He was really at the forefront of taking design aesthetic and applying it to murals, by using architectural line structure and how he broke things apart. There was another guy She-1, who was similar. It was very atmospheric. They took out the rigid structure of letter-based graffiti and let it run free.


Describe yourself in 5 words: Neurotic, OCD, problematic, opinionated (but open minded), searching


What was the most memorable response to your work? I don’t know. That’s a good one. I get a lot of interesting responses. One of the things about how I like to work is the open-ended nature of what I’m doing, and people always see different things. Half of the time, I will do something, and I don’t see anything. All I see is the form and composition that was aesthetically pleasing, without any intention of being thematic. People will say, oh I see a dolphin, or wow that looks like some crazy alien fish thing. I want my work to be open ended enough for people to formulate their own opinion about what I’m doing. I’m interested in their opinions because they help me think about what I’m trying to do in a different way. I really hold that part of my work close to my heart. I don’t prescribe to the notion that artists have to be telling you something because I really think the act of creation is in itself a communication.


When you aren’t creating works of art, what can you be found doing? Haha, its really funny for me to be saying this, me being an artist and what not but I go to the gym a lot. I wouldn’t call myself a gym rat but I go to the gym a lot now. I still skatebaord and continue to be influenced by the culture. I just enjoy it, but art pretty much permeates through everything that I do.


What are your current/future projects? I have a couple of things that are coming up. I’m doing a quick little mural in my friend’s pastry shop during the art walk that’s opening up. Tomorrow, April 1, 2012 I will participating in the Red Bull Curates project ( I will also be painting the Do Art Foundations stage at Coachella, April 13-15.


Who is your favorite muralist and why? That’s a loaded question. To preface, I’m more inspired by the people that I personally know, because I know what goes into their work. On a grander scale, my favorite right now is my buddy Shok-1 from England. The concepts behind what the guy does are so simple but so dense, and well thought out. His technique of how he places his work in the environment that its in is completely impeccable. its really awesome. I have had the pleasure of knowing him for about ten years and I spent some time in England with him years ago. I have watched him progress. He was really good back then and now there’s just so much that goes into what he does. 


To learn more about Adam 'Codak' Smith and to see his entire body of work go to


Name:  Vibul Wonprasat


City of origin: Thai, active in America since 1979.


How did you find yourself in the arts? My dad told me I had talent. He was a school principal. I got a lot of praise from my art teacher. I felt that art would make me happy. Art is part of my life.


Where do you draw your inspiration?  I appreciate the beautiful nature and the mankind culture. Those subjects inspired my paintings.


Describe yourself in 5 words:  Spiritual, imagination, creative, mysterious, and peaceful.


When you aren’t creating works of art, what can you be found doing? I read a lot of art books. Drawing takes up most of my time. I love to sketch people.


Who were some of your mentors? I believe everybody to be my mentors. I learn from everybody. I found my art mentors from people who helped me from different angles.


Which of your murals is your favorite? Why?  East meets West. I loved that mural. I don’t know what happened to it. One day it was just all white. I used to give lectures in front of that mural, to educate people.


What themes/messages do you convey through your work?  I use the artistic learning into my subjects to tell people more than they expect. They see things from my soul as an artist. They might see unknown shapes or colors, that’s part of me.


Who are your favorite artists? Wassily Kaninsky and Francisco de Goya.


More about these artists:

Wassily Kaninsky- The late 19th Century Russian painter. Kaninsky was particularly interested in the correlation between music and visual, color and independence. (Source)

Francisco de Goya- The Spanish portrait painter and print maker. Goya is often referred to as “the first of the moderns.” His belief in the importance of the artists vision over tradition, paved the way for his one of a kind style. (Source)
Image below is "East Meets West", 1991


Featured Artist of the Month | Feb 2012 | Ernesto de la Loza


Name: Ernesto de la Loza


City of origin: Los Angeles. Born in1949, Boyle Heights.


How did you find yourself in the arts? Rejection. In second grade I drew a scene of a hillside. I did a street that went straight up. The teacher said, “that’s wrong. You were supposed to do a winding road around it.” I was dismayed.


Where do you draw your inspiration? From humanity, nature, and modernity.


Describe yourself in 5 words:  Fortunate, energetic, focused, stubborn, and loyal.


What was the most memorable response to your work? I was in four corners of a housing project. There were four different gangs on different sides of the street and these eleven or nine year old kids were alarmed that I was crossing the street.  They said, “Ernesto, where are you going?” The other child said, “don’t worry about Ernesto, he is an artist. He can go anywhere.”


When you aren’t creating works of art, what can you be found doing? I am a handball fanatic. I’ve played for 40 years and for U.S. titles. I love the Cinema. I am a cinephile.


Who were some of your mentors? Mario Rueda (a master billboard painter). I sat with him for fifteen years, with a masters’ pallete, studying color and light.


What are you current/future projects? I am currently working to restore my mural, Organic Stimulus. I’m constantly building my body of work-my easel paintings.


Which of your murals is your favorite? Why? Resurrection of the Green Planet, in Boyle Heights. It’s the most popular because it’s an environmental piece. It’s a cultural icon. It has given me world-wide visibility.


What themes/messages do you convey through your work?  It depends on the location, the relevance of the demographic, and/or the contemporary issues of the day. I think I do a lot of world conflicts, where major events channel my energy. Like 9/11, 2012, the mural moratorium. A lot of my work is based upon youth and gang violence. I try to deter gang violence. I try to humanize the community because there is so much false information. Its been carried out for centuries. It’s making a race of people feel inferior, when people don’t even think these people are human. I like to talk about major issues, like genocide, to try to ease the mind and spread hope. I consider this peoples art. One of the greatest tools to give a voice to the people is through Muralism and public art since the fifteenth century to modern times,.


Who is your favorite muralist of all time? David Alfaro Siqueiros. He is the most prolific, radical and experimental. I went to a school in San Miguel de Allende where there is a Siqueiros mural on the ceiling. And L.A.’s America Tropical has influenced my murals creations. He is an inspiration. I try to carry his message of change. Were in a different era now. I don’t believe in violence. I don’t believe in war. We need radical change and that would be radical change, if we didn’t have violence and war

Resurrection of the Green Planet (1991)
Persistence of Energy (1989)
"Organic Stimulus" restoration 2012 - in progress

NameIsmael Cazarez


City of Origin: Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles


How did you find yourself in the arts? I walked in Mechicano Arts Center and saw their gallery. I had never seen a Zapata standing there so proud, and Spaniards fighting with Aztecs. It stimulated so much- I cried. We were looking for answers; this was something to me that I connected to immediately. I started to talk to the artist there, and they talked to me about cosmic power and pyramid energy. I started talking with them, but in a week I became an artist. I suppose I was always an artist- I was painting my shoes and drawing things, but no one ever said, “You’re making art”. I was inspired by Joe Cervantes. They called him the crazy one. He’s from San Diego. He was the first person who every talked to me about cosmic energy.   


Where do you draw your inspiration? I would call it from the Spiritual Ethos. I look at something and it inspires me. I look at objects, and I see it. Bottom line, I’ve centered myself with being a spiritual person. I’m just at peace with the cosmos, and that I can do my art, with almost nothing, as they say. Today it’s become almost a badge of honor doing that. Basically you can’t stop me. I sacrificed all those things I could’ve been to become what I’ve become.


Describe yourself in 5 words: Dynamic, eccentric, loving, aware, and giving


What has been the most memorable response to your work?  “Wow”. “Wow” is always the best response.


When you aren’t creating works of art, what can you be found doing? Playing music, but that's art too. Contemplating life.


Who are some of your mentors? David Botello. The writings of Carlos Casteñeda


What are you current/future projects? Current projects that I’m doing is working with wooden sculpture. I do ceramics on Wednesdays. I play music; I have 3 different concerts/ ideas. I hope to restore some of my murals that still exist (CSLA and Ramona Gardens). Presently exhibiting in DTLA, and I will be exhibiting a solo show in February. I’m represented by the Terrell Moore Gallery.



Name: Willie Robert Middlebrook, Jr.


City of origin: I was born in Detroit, Mich, but I have lived in Southern California since I was three years old.


How did you find yourself in the arts? It’s all I know; Mother showed me how to draw when I was in first grade from that point on I was always the school artist, then when I was in high school my Father introduced me to Artists Wes Hall and John Outterbridge.  I have been in the Arts all of my life. 


Where do you draw your inspiration? I draw my inspiration from everything. 


Describe yourself in 5 words: Motivated, dedicated, obsessed, obsessive and master.


What was the most memorable response to your work? My Father hanging up my early paintings in our house, and me crying, I was about 11 or 12 and he was using nails in all four corners and I felt he was destroying my work, twenty years later I would hang my 8 and 16 ft works up the same way.


When you aren’t creating works of art, what can you be found doing? Looking at or reading about works of art and the Artists that create them.


Who were some of your mentors? John Outterbridge, Cecil Fergerson, Wes Hall, Gary Winogrand, Roy DeCarava, my Father & Mother and all most everyone I run into.


What are you current/future projects? To create and then create some more!