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Christmas in Pacoima, A Moment with Insomniart

"Christmas in Pacoima" Muralist Erica Friend, Pacoima City Hall

A year ago, December 2019, I had the privilege of documenting Erica Friend @Insomniart as she played an important role in the creation of "Rushing Waters". A mural made possible by Los Angeles City Council Woman Monica Rodriguez and Muralist, Levi Ponce.

Erica Friend @insomniart settled in on the 30' articulating boom

Erica Friend AKA @insomniart settled nicely in the basket of a he 30' articulating boom

Rushing Waters was funded by Los Angeles City Council District 7 Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez who commissioned muralist Levi Ponce to design and execute the groundbreaking mural. She cut through the deep red tape of bureaucracy to make this historic mural materialize.

Standing proudly at 10,000 square feet, Rushing Waters, is the largest above ground mural in the San Fernando Valley. Designed by muralist Levi Ponce and Jacques Dupuy, this was a project 4 years in the making, and is the most significant public art project in the Los Angeles County. It honors the natural and human made landmarks in the San Fernando Valley.

"Rushing Waters"

The Tataviam Village woman pouring a bowl of water onto the land stands 25' tall and is the most prominent and breathtaking image within the mural.

"Rushing Waters"

Levi Ponce asked Erica to assist him with painting the Tataviam Village woman something I was fortunate to document and understood the gravity this would have on hometown artists Erica Friend. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley and giving back to her community this became an experience she will cherish for the rest of her life. Now, one year later, I am especially proud to see her as the first artist to paint the exterior of the Los Angeles City Pacoima City Hall.

"Christmas in Pacoima" Muralist Erica Friend, Pacoima City Hall

A strong advocate of the arts, Councilwoman Rodriguez has supported and promoted local artists by providing public spaces for creativity and has proven to be a force of nature in her community determined to make her district (CD7) shine with community pride. This December, Erica was commissioned by Councilwoman Rodriguez to create a 10' by 75' mural for the Pacoima Neighborhood City Hall.

"Christmas in Pacoima" with an assist by Hector Ponce @johnhectorponce

It was exciting to see Erica bring "Christmas in Pacoima" to life, especially in light of COVID-19. This mural has been a welcome light in the Pacoima community. 2020 has been a challenging year to get through and this holiday mural brings a feeling of joy and hope to the residents of Pacoima and anyone else who has the opportunity to see it.


TheEchoParker: You are the first artist to paint the frontage of the Pacoima City Hall. Councilwoman Rodriguez understands the importance of community street art and puts forth a conscious effort to create projects and enlist local artists. How did you feel when her office reached out to you to design and paint this holiday mural.

Erica Friend: I felt very excited! I've never painted glass windows before this project. So getting the chance to work with a different surface besides canvas was fun.

TheEchoParker: Growing up, I was mesmerized by decorated holiday window storefronts and could see that same emotion in the children that walk past your mural. What was the most challenging part of the mural and what was the most rewarding.

Erica Friend: I think the most rewarding part is being outside with the community. And hearing them saying positive things about the progress we were doing on the windows each day. They loved it. Specifically the kids. I think what was challenging was letting myself go. And just freehand everything was a little challenging. But once we started rolling with it. It got easier with the help of fellow muralist.

TheEchoParker: You were supported through the days by some talented friends. Tell me who lent a helping hand?

Erica Friend: @leachypeachyowo @jpmurals @leviponce @johnhectorponce @goreystein @rysta_

Linoleum carving photo and video by Erica Friend

TheEchoParker: You create dynamic powerful pieces of art on all forms of media but I particularly enjoy seeing your process of carving out linoleum to create intricate and powerful images that you then hand print onto tote bags, t-shirts and sweatshirts. Tell me about your art, your use of vivid colors and how your art evolves.

Erica Friend: My art is always evolving and jumps around different medium. Some days I'm painting on canvas and other days on stucco.

I tend to use vivid colors to catch the eye and attract the viewers. And when I need a break from painting. I'll sit at the table and work on my tablet on some designs or work on some linoleum carvings. Maybe take out the sketch book and doodle some quick ideas. I really try to spread out my time. And not rush my projects and pay more attention to detail. Which is why lot of my work is very detailed.

Photo and Video by Erica Friend

TheEchoParker: What influences your art designs?

Erica Friend: A lot of things influence my work. So its hard to know where to begin. But I welcome the viewer to connect with my work and make they're own assumptions on what they feel drove me to create something from a feeling I had one day or something I dreamt about the following night. They're answers are more intriguing.

Erica Friend is known as @Insomniart on Instagram and has an Etsy store: InsomniArtWork on Etsy

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