Internet Notoriety Strikes Venice Boutique's Mural of Top Women Democrats
For more than a year, a mural has bedecked a wall inside the Venice boutique Nati in relative obscurity, despite its eye-widening rendering of some of the country's most powerful women.
Depicted striding down Abbot-Kinney Boulevard with shopping bags are Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Wearing wide smiles, the women have ditched their D.C. duds for sheaths and blouson tops — the style of clothes sold at Nati, its name emblazoned on a shopping bag swung by Ocasio-Cortez.
On any regular Saturday, about five to 10 customers pull out their phones to snap a photo of the wall. But last Saturday, employees noticed that the number of people photographing the mural had quadrupled.
The owners of the store didn't know it at the time, but their mural — or rather a tweet about their mural — had gone viral.
In a withering post retweeted more than 9,000 times, Rachel Zarrell, a creative director at Buzzfeed, shared a photo and wrote: "this mural inside an LA boutique is the most cursed thing ever made."
this mural inside an LA boutique is the most cursed thing ever made pic.twitter.com/mxx3XQOR6Q— #1 Rachel (@rachel) November 21, 2020
Some online skewered the mural, others lightly ribbed. Still others defended the boutique's artistic choice. Many just wanted to know variations of How? Why?
Co-owner Ron Brawer said he conceived the mural as an homage to women he considered heroes.
"Who in America today really would enjoy an experience on Abbot Kinney just shopping and having fun?" Brawer said. "I felt those women really deserved it."
He was taken aback by the response to the mural, which he says up until the tweet has been overwhelmingly positive.
Complaints numbered in the tens, Brawer said, and came mostly from right-leaning customers who Brawer said didn't appreciate that only Democrats were featured.
"It's not easy to find a right-wing Republican woman who I feel deserves to be on the wall," Brawer said. "Susan Collins, Ivanka Trump — I mean, they just don't represent who we are."
Another criticism he's fielded is that he's turned these accomplished politicians into a stereotype of women who love to shop. "But I really want to make sure people understand that is not in any way our point of view," he said.
Brawer, a former toy company executive from New York, co-owns the shop with his partner and its namesake Anat "Nati" Winston. He said they're fans of street art and commissioned the artist gz.jr, aka Gustavo Zermeño Jr., to create the mural.
Brawer said he left the styling of the politicians to Zermeño, who studied the store's inventory and decided to put Warren, Pelosi and Harris in tops and leggings, while Obama and Ocasio-Cortez are in sheaths, as was, less predictably, a bare-armed Ginsburg.
Brawer said he always wanted the mural "to go viral at some level," but some of the new attention is not what he expected.
He recounted how one man had walked in Saturday, looked at the mural and, shaking his head, grumbled about liberals. The next afternoon, someone called into the store to ask why the mural was "f—-ing" there.
Brawer said in his ideal world, the mural would become famous from a visit by one of the featured women.
"I would be most excited if AOC or Kamala or Elizabeth Warren, any of them, were to see the image," Brawer said. "I'd probably get them to sign it."