May 22, 2017
In Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 5,400-square-foot façade on Grand Avenue now hosts a vibrant mural by one of the city’s own artists—Jonas Wood. Meredith Mendelsohn reports on the impact the mural has on revitalizing the museum’s exterior and downtown.
In an era when dazzling architecture is the art-world norm, and in a city where there’s no shortage of flash, the unassuming home of The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in downtown Los Angeles can feel hidden in plain sight. Los Angeles artist Jonas Wood has changed that. Ever since December, when he covered MOCA’s 5,400-square-foot facade with a mural of verdant plants in decorative ceramic vessels, the building’s stretch of Grand Avenue has been decidedly sunnier. “It has completely changed the temperature outside the museum,” says the institution’s director, Philippe Vergne.
The mural grabs the attention of passersby but also humanizes Grand Avenue, a busy north-south corridor that is now one of the epicenters of L.A.’s cultural activity. While skyscrapers and office towers vie for attention with some of the city’s more muscular architectural attractions—the neighboring metal-clad Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Broad museum, with its dramatic concrete-and-fiberglass honeycomb facade—Wood’s mural immediately attracts the eye by transforming the building’s exterior. Rendered in Wood’s trademark style of flat intersecting planes bursting with pattern and color, the image is also a reminder of what’s inside the building. “This was really about bringing the museum outside,” says Vergne. “I always liked the idea that when you looked at ancient architecture in Greece or in Rome, it used to be polychrome and with time it became monochromatic. So for me it’s also a little bit about that. Let’s bring back some visual lust in the streets.”