Standing proudly at 10,000 square feet, Rushing Waters designed by muralist Levi Ponce and Jacques Dupuy is a project 4 years in the making, and is the most significant public art project in the San Fernando Valley since 1978
Video by @nicknackilms
This massive undertaking of Rushing Waters has come with its trials and tribulations, but resulted in a larger than life representation of the history of the city where it sits. I was lucky enough to be the official photographer for this project, and included as part of the team of artists. It was a dream come true to document the creation of this monumental mural every step of its development.
Being raised in Pacoima, CA, the city holds a special place in Levi Ponce’s heart. On weekends and days off, Levi would create murals all over the city. Encouraging community involvement and participation, he created over a dozen murals and encouraged other artists to create art. The one mile stretch in Pacoima on Van Nuys Bl where he and others made art is now famously known as Mural Mile. The city of Pacoima has definitely been put on the map thanks to Levi and other artists he inspired and is even known as Mural City.
Levi had a goal to bring the essence of Pacoima, where the Rushing Waters mural would be located, to its community. By featuring the Indian woman who represents the Tataviam Tribe, an Indigenous group that calls the Northeast San Fernando Valley home, this mural would be able to depict history of Pacoima and those who were there before the city became what it is today.
With his vision in mind, Levi started the process of gathering a large and amazing community to assist in making Rushing Waters a reality. In addition to his dream team of artists, an invaluable part of the making of the mural was Los Angeles City Council District 7, Council Woman, Monica Rodriquez. Seeing the intended vision Levi had, Councilwoman Rodriguez was thrilled to help bring the history of Pacoima to its citizens.
Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez explained,
“Rushing Waters" pays tribute to our heritage and captures the spirit of Pacoima. This type of investment in our community has been long overdue and I am excited to be part of making history in our community.”
Councilwoman Rodriguez proved to be the most essential part of the team, and was instrumental in planning and the implementation of this mural. Despite the difficulty many predecessors faced trying to get through the red tape, she was able to make the mural a reality. She listened to concerns from both residents and businesses to create a permanent mural to stop graffiti and vandalism on the well-known wall where the mural would sit. She coordinated services with Metro, the Los Angeles Native American Commission, the property owner and was able to dedicate sustainable funding. Without her support, this mural would not have been possible.
The wall is located less than thirty feet from active Metrolink train tracks, used by the metro and freight trains. Since the building is privately owned, but land close to the wall is owned by the Metrolink, everyone involved had to get metro certification to be able to work on the mural, and a metro supervisor had to be present at all times during the creation of the mural, to ensure the safety of everyone in charge.
Once the location was solidified, the team was able to get started. They knew that this massive undertaking; while rewarding, wouldn’t be an easy task. Due to Metro restrictions, they had 15 days, and only 6 hours a day to work!
On top of the noise from the trains, the uneven ground, the troublesome dust, intense heat some days, rain other days, and many other challenges made the making of the mural one that wasn’t a walk in the park. There was some graffiti tags during its production, and media coverage requiring breaks for interviews.
Despite ALL of these challenges, Levi and the team stayed motivated continued to work on the wall with an intense conviction. At the end, they completed the wall in an incredible 12 days; the result was worth all the effort!
Rushing Waters showcases the landscapes of Pacoima, Hansen Dam, Whiteman Airport, local freeways, Sylmar Aqueduct, San Gabriel Mountains, LA River, and more. In the center of it all is a native woman representing the Tataviam Tribe, serving as a guardian and overseer of the nature around her. This mural became the largest above ground mural in the San Fernando Valley and has already become a huge part of the community and will continue to serve as a representation of the Pacoima spirit for decades to come.
“This is an historic endeavor and my team and I are extremely honored to be trusted with a project that means so much to Pacoima and what it will represent for generations to come. We hope this project serves as a catalyst for change not only in art but for the people of this beautiful City. For years, red tape kept this project out of reach -- I commend Council Woman Rodriguez for stepping up and making this project a reality for our community.”
Now that you’ve learned a little about the making of Rushing Waters, you’ll get to learn a little more about Levi Ponce and his team of artists, @insomniart @jpmurals @mighk_rivera @_meversus @rysta_ @tetriswai @reddortiz @gorestein and supporting team members @nicknackfilms and @morphatron in upcoming pieces.
Be on the lookout for new articles here at Sold to see what each of these talented artists brought to the table.