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Photo essay: Christ comes to Los Angeles via mural

April 15, 2011 |  9:26 pm

Camilo Vergara-3
Paint store, 1315 W. El Segundo Blvd., Tim Morgan, 2003

Christ comes to Los Angeles. He appears in Pico Union and South Los Angeles to stop gang killing. In a car wash on South Central Avenue and in a paint shop in El Segundo, his picture is meant to stop taggers from defacing a clean wall. And muralist Manuel G. Cruz told the entire story of his last days on Earth on a bodega's walls. And then there is Christ on skid row, in pencil, resigned and grim, carrying his cross.  Someone stuck chewing gum on his ear.

A few of these images show a blue-eyed savior, a nod to the old Hollywood Christ.  Once I asked a resident of South L.A. why Jesus was so often depicted with blue eyes in his neighborhood. “Cristo era un hombre bello, “ he told me.

I found L.A. long on crucifixions, short on ressurrections. A powerful risen Christ painted in 1984 by Kent Twitchell was defaced, then finally painted over. But he appears again next to the front door of the Michoacan Meat Market on Compton Avenue, sacred heart wrapped in thorns, hands wounded.

--Camilo José Vergara

Vergara's photo essay continues after the jump»

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Car wash, South Central Avenue, 2003

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Michoacan Meat Market, 5137 Compton Ave., 1999

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Mama's Chicken, Slauson Avenue near 4th Avenue, 2000

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San Julian Street between 6th and 7th Streets, 2003

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11107 S. Vermont Ave., Kent Twtichell, 1999

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Alley between 51st and 52nd Streets, 2002

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North Fresno Street at East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, Manuel G. Cruz, 2001

RELATED:

Photo essay: Inner-city murals of Barack Obama

Photo essay: Murals that conjure the great man, Martin Luther King Jr., and the enduring dream

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