Welcome to the jungle!

Written by Suzanne Sable

A purple owl, a honey bee, a pink rabbit and a parrot are all part of the new crew greeting commuters and the community on Palms Blvd. and Overland Ave. in the latest oversized mural to grace the streets of Los Angeles, which was designed by artist and founder of CANLOVE, DJ Neff.

Identified over four years ago by the Palms Neighborhood Council (PNC), this particular wall was in need of some major TLC, including graffiti removal, and when Nick Greif became president of the Council in 2016 he made it a top priority on his agenda. After receiving public art approval from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Beautify Earth and the PNC jumped into action.

First, like many of the Beautify Earth-sponsored murals, wall prep needed to take place prior to an artist executing a design. Given the size of the wall and its visibility in the Palms community, Beautify Earth, and specifically, Board Member Sergio Cuculiza, knew just who to call.

A leading development and construction company with a mission to “build for a better society,” Skanska USA, came in as a perfect partner for the job. “As a local Los Angeles contractor, Skaska is always looking for ways to support the communities where we work and play,” said Ellen Mair, Director of Business Development at Skanska USA. “Beautify Earth gives us that opportunity by allowing us to be a small part of the team.”

Wall prep for this project was no easy task. The wall, which is approximately 150 feet long and 30 feet high, had over 20 coats of old paint, dirt, and grime, that needed to be removed. With a “ladders last” policy for worker safety, and in cooperation with the building owners, Skanska’s team was able to scrape, powerwash and paint the wall from both above at the building level and below at the street level. They also took careful measures to protect any parked cars that were on the street as well as stopping all work when pedestrians were near. As the final step in the prep stage, Skanska provided 10 staff members, ranging from engineers to marketing specialists, to coat the wall with white sealer – 20 gallons were needed!

Next, it was time for the art. After the PNC Board reviewed more than 30 artists, their selection was narrowed down to 3 following public meetings. Gravitating towards the proposal presented by DJ Neff and The Wolf Counsel, which featured larger than life local animals, a playful design, and bold colors, Beautify Earth finalized the artist contracts and budgets.

To incorporate the community into the mural process and design, a paint day was organized to assist the artists. Over 150 community members attended the paint day and they were so successful, they even were able to end more than an hour earlier than expected. How’s that for a win-win?!

Speaking to the effect that the mural will have on the Palms community, Greif said this, “Community pride. Awareness of identity and sense of place. Palms is a transitional community with a lot of diversity and very cool residents. The mural puts the neighborhood on the map and shows other neighborhoods nearby that the PNC is deliberately working hand-in-hand to improve the area.”

Beautify Earth was honored to help bring this mural to life for the Palms community. And this mural, like many of the murals we sponsor, is key to fulfilling our mission of building stronger communities through art and service.

We would like to invite you to join us on this one-of-a-kind adventure by becoming a monthly member, which ensures we can continue to empower artists, build stronger neighborhoods and cities, and instill community pride.