Alta Live: Street Art Goes Corporate

What do marketed murals mean for L.A.’s storied history of stunning street art?

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Street art has a rich cultural history of advocacy and representation in Los Angeles. But when a tech company steps into the market through murals, things get complicated. Pete Galindo, director of the Social and Public Art Resource Center’s Great Wall of Los Angeles Institute, and Alta Journal associate editor Ajay Orona joined Alta Live to look at one L.A. neighborhood’s storied history of street art, and how one food delivery app is capitalizing on wall space.

“Murals in Boyle Heights in particular come from a legacy and tradition of resistance, and as an alternative form of media for the Chicano and Chicana movement, but also the larger civil rights movement throughout the country,” Galindo said. “And in Los Angeles in particular, they became an effective tool for young Chicanos and Chicanas prior to the advent of social media.” But three new murals stand out because they’re sponsored by DoorDash as part of the food delivery app’s marketing campaign—one that may not immediately be clear to viewers. “If you know street artists or have seen street art, it seems grassroots,” Orona said of the DoorDash murals. “It seems like it is coming from the community.”

While Galindo appreciates that DoorDash’s murals engaged the Boyle Heights community, he also expressed skepticism about the app’s commitment to Boyle Heights. He added that an organization with a longstanding relationship with Boyle Heights, like nonprofit Self-Help Graphics and Art, might be more committed. He also contended that the murals failed to address relevant issues within the community, like access to healthy and affordable food. “I think that DoorDash would have done a greater service to the community had they secured the walls and said, ‘We’re going to dedicate these walls to a conversation about food in this community,’” Galindo said. “And then that conversation would not have been nice or comfortable, or even profitable, but it would have been a very real conversation.”

Check out these links to some of the topics Galindo and Orona brought up.

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