The back story to that bouquet blooming over L.A.'s Arts District

"Bloom" by artist Hueman unfurls on the Neptune Building in Los Angeles' Arts District.
“Bloom” by artist Hueman unfurls on the Neptune Building in Los Angeles’ Arts District.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The epicenter of the downtown L.A. arts district is Joel Bloom Square, a swath of concrete bound by Rose Avenue, East 3rd Street and Traction Avenue that is a prism of street murals. The closest — and largest — wall in the area, the eastern side of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions’ Neptune Building, has been blank the last year. The pensions group whitewashed the facade as part of a renovation, erasing a beloved pair of murals by artist duos who go by the names How and Nosm (Raoul and Davide Perre) and DabsMyla, upsetting the neighborhood.

Oakland-based artist Allison Torneros, who works under the name Hueman, has filled the void with a new mural. The spray-painted work “Bloom” depicts the artist’s hand clutching a bouquet of flowers entwined with the mural title and set against a simple pale-blue background. Incorporating text is a departure for the artist, who has several murals up around the city, including one on the campus of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Koreatown and another at 9th and Main streets downtown; typically, her work mixes figurative and abstract imagery, she says. But in the case of “Bloom,” she wanted to not-so-subtly honor the unofficial mayor of the area, the late urban pioneer, actor and activist Joel Bloom, who helped to shape the neighborhood before his death in 2007.

"Bloom," reflecting on a window in the Arts District.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Where: The Neptune Building, overlooking Joel Bloom Square, 701 E. Third St., L.A.

Commissioned by: Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions

The artist says: “My first mural in L.A. was only a block away, and I’ve had so many murals in this little area of the Arts District, and I just really wanted to give something back. … I love the way the texture and the color come together — and the scale. It’s like the biggest mural in this neighborhood. It was just a wall I was proud to be on.”

Canvassing the City is a new occasional feature on the back story of murals, street sculpture and other public artworks in Southern California. Send us your suggestions with a photo, if possible.

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