There's A New Chester Bennington Mural Visible From The 101 Freeway
If you're passing Sherman Oaks while driving northbound on the 101, you may notice a familiar face by the side of the freeway. It's that of Chester Bennington, the former Linkin Park singer who died late June.
Bennington graces the back wall of the Rock n' Pies' Sherman Oaks location; while the space doesn't exactly loom over the freeway, you can spot it if you're driving on the right lanes. According to Variety, the visual was unveiled by local muralist Jonas Never over the past weekend. Never, who's from Venice, has an impressive portfolio when it comes to street murals—many of them depicting local figures in realistic portraits. There's one of Vin Scully at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and 5th Street in Koreatown. His most recognizable piece, however, might be the Elliott Smith mural off Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake (it's the one that also depicts Beck, Jackson Browne, and Silversun Pickups).
While Never is no stranger to doing portraits of musicians, it's perhaps the Bennington one that carries the most significance to him. As Variety notes, Never is a former college baseball player, and he used to bring Linkin Park out with him on the field. “I grew up listening to [Chester],” said Never. “I used to take the pitching mound to the sound of ‘One Step Closer’.”
"Linkin Park really stood out in a genre of music that really only garnered mainstream play and attention while people my age were in high school or in college," Never, who's 35, added in an email to LAist, explaining the band's appeal to a specific generation. "I think that because of that a lot of people will always have a spot in their heart for them...they were a big part of the soundtrack to us growing up."
The portrait of Bennington, which was done with both spray paint and house paint, is a bit disarming in how naked and vulnerable it feels. This was part of Never's intention, who aimed for a more intimate aura. "Many of the tattoo and artistic tributes I've seen for Chester were of him screaming into a mic. Even though that's how he was best known on stage, I wanted to focus more on capturing him. I wanted his face and his tattoos to be super recognizable," Never told LAist.
As with the Smith mural (whose famous Figure 8 album cover was shot at the northwestern border of Silver Lake), the location for the Bennington portrait has its own significance. “I’d been seeing that big blank wall from the 101 and thought it would be good for something,” Never told Variety. “When I heard Chester died, I immediately thought of that wall because I knew some of the band members lived in the Valley. I just texted [Jim Conners, owner of Rock’n Pies] and offered to do it for free because it was the right thing to do.”
Certainly, L.A. is no stranger to street art that crop up at unexpected places. They're very Instagrammable, of course, but they also serve a higher purpose in activating the otherwise unseen spaces of our sprawling terrain. "Each neighborhood has its own style, heroes and stories and I do my best to make sure my murals are connected to their location," Never told LAist. "Hopefully they also give people an excuse to visit and photograph parts of town they may not be familiar with...or at least learn a little bit about that area."
Rock n' Pies' Sherman Oaks location is at 12920 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks.