‘Into the Blue,’ on the Wall

Departments install mural on new Airport Police HQ.

Photos courtesy SKA Studios, LLC

Cultural Affairs/Airports: Cultural Affairs and Airports have completed the installation of a mural to adorn the new Airport Police headquarters in Westchester March 21.

In our January cover story on the new headquarters, we told you the mural was coming. It is now in place.

The mural reflects the history and significance of the surrounding community.

The mural, Into the Blue by Los Angeles artist Francisco Letelier in collaboration with Marybeth Fama, is featured at the front entrance of the Airport Police Facility, located on the northeast corner of Westchester Parkway and Loyola Boulevard. The art is composed of acrylic paint on aluminum composite panels and spans 105-feet wide by 10-feet high along a prominent exterior wall. Including a variety of flora, fauna and figures, the piece utilizes rich symbolism to highlight the history of the community and the Airport Police Department’s commitment to serving the public.

The mural, which blends imagery from the past and present, allows viewers to travel a visual narrative of the history of the airport and the land around it. The imagery can be categorized into three thematic groups: community, culture and place.

Community

Featuring a brilliant color palette, Into the Blue celebrates the neighboring community of Westchester, which is part of the Ballona Creek ecosystem. The indigenous Kizh-Gabrieleño people, who are depicted in the mural, lived along the Ballona Creek. Their characteristics as travelers and explorers are symbolic of the people who arrive and depart from LAX today. The depiction of a vaquero, or Mexican cowboy, is meant to represent the Machado family, who established the neighborhood’s early boundaries as Rancho La Ballona.

At the far-right end of the mural, a mountain lion is poised on a cliff. The large cat echoes the bronze lion sculptures at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. and symbolizes the protective role of police officers. Beneath the mountain lion appears the name of LAX Airport Police Officer Tommy Scott, who was killed while on duty at the airport in 2005. These elements emphasize deep connections within the law enforcement community and pay tribute to a fallen officer.

Culture

Historical and contemporary travelers are presented on the mural, illustrating how the region has long been a gateway for people of different cultures and backgrounds. Figures carry maps of the local area and flags of other nations. Other figures convey universal symbols for peace, justice and inclusion. The foreground of the mural depicts emotional departures and reunions of passengers, while the image of a young Mayan girl represents the immigrants who continue to shape the identity of the City.

Place

The artist references the environmentally protected sand dunes located on the west side of the airport with imagery of a Great Blue Heron and pelican birds. Throughout the mural, colorful butterflies span the composition, calling attention to the endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly found in the neighboring dunes, as well as the Palos Verdes Blue, another local endangered butterfly species. The butterflies seek food and shelter in the Coast Buckwheat, which is also depicted in the mural.


ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Chilean-American artist, Francisco Letelier, is known internationally for his public works. His soaring sun and moon murals at the Westlake/MacArthur Park Metro Station celebrate the diversity of Los Angeles. The artist weaves history with contemporary experiences while building dialogues between nations, individuals and communities. Marybeth Fama is the daughter of a creative Italian immigrant family. Born in Boston and raised in Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. Known for her commanding skill in human portraiture and landscape, Fama uses insights into history, geography and culture to create thought provoking experiences.

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