Stars Help Muralist Turn His Life Around


An airbrushed gray stone tablet tucked on the left side of artist Daniel Rey’s most recent mural reads, “Ad astra per aspera,” which translates “To the stars through difficulties.”

Rey’s depiction of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and others decorates an outside wall of Sherman Oaks’ Iguana Vintage Clothing on Ventura Boulevard. But the phrase has meaning beyond the turmoil-filled lives of the stars he paints.

For the artist, who lives in his 1984 Dodge, the phrase represents his own struggle to leave his past, which includes a prison stint for theft and drug abuse, for a chance to make a living as a painter.


Besides painting signs and murals for businesses, he is at work on a second mural at Iguana, this one a street-scape of Ventura Boulevard.

In the process, Rey is working to gain respect for himself and his art. “I’m going to have to give--and give a lot--before I reach what society considers a modicum of success,” Rey said. “Life is a struggle, but it’s always a struggle upward. We’re all going to the stars.”