On Sunday morning, June 7, 2020, before thousands of peaceful protestors marched on Hollywood Blvd., the corner at Hollywood and Vine had a small group of professional artists and volunteers painting peaceful messages of love, hope and solidarity on plywood boards.
It all started when Wally Moran, General Manager of Wood & Vine Restaurant & Bar boarded the front windows of the restaurant facing out to Hollywood Blvd. He needed to protect the restaurant located in the historic Taft Building, from damage from potential looters that targeted DTLA, the Fairfax District, West Hollywood and Santa Monica.
Days after the boards were secure, Moran noticed offensive messages tagged on his boards and reached out to his friend Georgia Van Cuylenburg, founder and organizer of Arts Bridging the Gap, a youth social justice organization. Together they organized “Paint Your Peace” to transform plywood boards into meaningful works of art.
Starting at 10 a.m., almost 30 people designed and painted colorful messages to promote a positive change for Hollywood and the world. “First the artists starting painting along the block of Wood & Vine, and then we extended up to Katsuya and the Hollywood and Vine Lift Building,” Moran said via text.
Artist Amy Smith claimed the board in front of Wood & Vine, painting a stunning pink piece of civil rights activist Maya Angelou. Smith’s mural is a multi-layered collage emphasizing Black Lives Matter.
Talking to Georgia by phone, I inquired about how she and Moran organized this peaceful event. “Growing up in Australia, Hollywood was a dream,” she said. “I arrived at the age of 18 years old. (Georgia has a long Hollywood resume as a comedian, performer, writer, and producer) social work fuels my heart,” she said.
“Wally is an incredible leader in Hollywood,” said Georgia. “When he called with this request, I immediately agreed.” There are now almost 20 colorful mural messages along Hollywood Blvd. “We can add more,” she said, because Wally and Georgia are able to get swift approval from the Hollywood Entertainment Council. With her work at Arts Bridging the Gap, she not only has an artist’s mind, but can also efficiently get the paper work done to get approvals quickly.
Since Georgia has worked with several of the artists involved, it was easy to contact them and tell them about the vision. “I said to each one, here’s the deal, we have an incredible opportunity in Hollywood,” she said. “What happened that day was magical.”
As the professional artists started painting, people contacted Georgia to see if they could have a board to express themselves. She looked at their ideas and IG sites and soon gave them approval. One was Marcus, a security guard working nearby, who wanted to spread a message. He painted George Floyd with the words Value Human Race.
According to Georgia, a black mother and her two young boys, dressed in super hero costumes, walked up to this powerful piece and stood proudly for a photo. Marcus told her, that he never felt “seen” until he painted this yesterday. Now the Hollywood community and world will see how this talented man has such a influential message to share with us all.
Another surprise artist was Zook58. He approached Georgia to paint a board. “He sent me his beautiful design and was so kind, that I immediately agreed to allow him to express his message of an officer and young black boy kneeling together,” Georgia said.
Reaching out to this artist, he shared that “AP news captured it for the cover of an article titled – Cops on air for 33 seasons, dropped by Paramount Network.” I learned this piece took about 4 to 6 six hours to paint, like many of his other murals. His colorful and meaningful images can be viewed in Studio City, on Melrose Ave., and Los Angeles. Check out his IG account @zook58.
Moran informed me that “Wood & Vine is still closed (as of June 10, 2020), but soon will be hosting the artists for drinks to celebrate.” He added that when the boards come down and the restaurant reopens, the art will be displayed inside the restaurant. “The Pantages Theatre said they want to do the same, and Georgia wants to do a show [displaying some of the pieces] later this year,” he said.
Want to help make Hollywood and surrounding communities beautiful? Art Bridging the Gap is looking for donations to help pay for supplies and expand their programs to empower youth all over Los Angeles. Click here Art Bridging the Gap to learn more.
Part of this article was featured in the Beverly Press on June 10, 2020.