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Transforming Pacoima: One Brushstroke at a Time

The Mural Mile is transforming Pacoima. More than 50 murals are in the area surrounding Pacoima City Hall. Most of the artists who display their work are locals, who say it’s their way of giving back to the community.

“I wanted to paint murals, and there’s no doubt my mind that I wanted to bring it to Pacoima with the idea of changing the face of the neighborhood,” mural artist Levi Ponce said. “I know people have always been painting murals in Pacoima, and there’s always been painters, but I was the one who came about and called it a revolution.”

Many people in Pacoima are contributing to the revolution to help beautify the city in many different ways. The environmental non-profit Pacoima Beautiful has been implementing initiatives to clean up the city since 1996.

“Pacoima, unfortunately, has one of the highest asthma rates in the nation,” said Sandra Ramirez, Cultural Arts Director of Pacoima Beautiful. “We are an environmental justice organization of its own in the community, and … we also do a lot of work around just [to create] access to public spaces and green spaces.”

The art revolution is also gaining momentum; many new artists are emerging to show off their talents to the residents of Pacoima.

“My favorite is painting on the public streets of Pacoima,” artist Desi Sanchez said, “and being able to interact with the people passing by. That’s the best part. Sometimes I’ll try to paint slower, so I have to be out there for more days and make my time longer, because once my painting is over, that’s it, my interaction with the community is done, and that piece is up. But the people they love it. They love seeing someone paint.”

The artists who work on the Mural Mile are asked to go through a selection process through city hall, but some artists say they prefer to defy the process and do their own street art, which is illegal and therefore may be whitewashed and painted over.

“I think when you put something that big up in a public space, there are always going to be opinions,” Ponce said. “Every mural is controversy. You have to push forward, and I always said it’s about the bigger picture. It’s not about any individual mural, it’s about my work as a whole.”

Moderator: Cynthia Marin

Producer: Dana Lites

Anchor: Flor Tolentino

Social Media Editors: Dana Lites and Char’Tre Steward

Reporters: Trevor Edwards, Dana Lites, Cynthia Marin, Noemi Salcedo, Char’Tre Steward and Flor Tolentino

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