The fence surrounding J Raymond Mireles’ house in Logan Heights isn’t there just to keep people out. In fact, the photographer is using his fence – a symbol of privacy and security – as an experimental public art project meant to bring people together.
Mireles recently mounted seven large-scale photographs he took on a new wooden fence that wraps around his home on Imperial Avenue. The nearly four-by-five-foot portraits feature the faces of people who live and work in his neighborhood.
Next to the stretches of barren chain-link, corrugated steel and concrete fences common in the neighborhood, Mireles’ art installation is striking. The sidewalk’s been morphed into a makeshift outdoor art gallery – people often linger in front of the oversized faces trying to figure out why they’re there.
“I was really nervous at first,” Mireles said. “I put a couple photos up and was like, ‘What’s going to happen?’ But the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. There’s almost a feeling of protectiveness over the work.”
Inside his home, Mireles thumbed through a stack of the rest of the large-scale prints he’s preparing to frame and mount on the fence.
“This is Chris,” he said, pointing to a photo of a young man. “He’s always around here. The New Name Club is right across the street. It’s a social club and all day long you’ll hear the slap of dominoes on the table and these guys who go there – they’re so funny – you think they’re about to get in a full-on fight, but it’s just such trash-talking. It’s just fun.”
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I agree with the comment that there should also be women in the photo mix unless, of course, they're uncomfortable with being portrayed here.
Surely, copies of each photo are given to each person portrayed. What a great opportunity to have a wonderful portrait to pass down in a family!
Most inspiring story I've read in months. Mr. Mireles figured out how to use his unique skills and talents to personally address an issue instead of passively hoping someone else would, as far too many people do. The mural is beautiful as are all the individuals.
Mr. Mireles, it takes a talented photographer to create such impressive portraits. VOSD, you need to hire this guy - I would love to see his work illustrating your articles!
If I lived in Logan Heights, he could certainly photograph me. (I am white). They are beautiful images and I love public art!! Congratulations Mr. Mireles.
So nice to wake up to my name in the Morning Report and read the supportive comments. One thing the report mentions is that no white neighbors have agreed to be photographed. That's true only to the extent that I have close to zero non-Hispanic white neighbors. It's not that non-minorities are saying no to me and my camera; there's just few to be found in this neighborhood. (I want to say none, but I know someone will correct me.)
I'd also like to add that though I'm "white" by skin color, I'm actually Hispanic. Not only is my name of Spanish origin, both of my parents are native Spanish speakers. Not sure how that matters, but it's funny for me to see myself described as white when much of my family history is decidedly nonwhite.
My hat's off to Jennifer for calling me "young," but even flattery will not help you get my face on the fence!
I hope that Mireles also adds his own portrait to the exhibition. After all, he is a member of the community. It may help his encourage his white neighbors to participate.
This is a great idea! It is another example of how art can help solve problems. Public art can be a difficult art form for many artists. But, when they look deeply into a community, get to know the residents and their issues, it can become a way for one's art to help solve or bridge problems in a community.
My hat is off to this young photographer who has used his head and....his heart to try and solve a problem of bringing residents of diverse backgrounds together.