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Arts and Entertainment

Why The 'Elliott Smith Wall' Looks Different Right Now

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If you pass by the Silver Lake mural that's been nicknamed the "Elliott Smith wall," you might notice that its signature red, black and white colors are gone and replaced with brand new colors. Why the change? Well, it's all for the sake of art.

The iconic mural that's emblazoned across the wall of the Solutions! electronic repair store located on 4334 West Sunset Blvd. served as the backdrop for Smith's Figure 8 album, and it has since been an unofficial memorial for the singer since his death in 2003. While the same S-shape is still on the wall, the colors of the stripes and background have now changed to six different shades—from light purple to green and orange—and all associated with the nude color.

Wade McElroy, the co-owner of downtown L.A. restaurant Horse Thief, who is partly behind all of this, tells LAist that it's not clear how long this new look will stay up, if not indefinitely. It's part of an art show called "Denude" that his friend and N.Y.-based artist Mike Egan is curating inside the space. Egan is also the mastermind behind the new colors covering the mural.

The connection McElroy has to the space is that he and his Horse Thief partner Russell Malixi are planning on opening a new restaurant there, next to Dinosaur Coffee, in the fall of 2016. They're leasing the space from Solutions! The name of the new restaurant, Bar Angeles, even pays homage to one of Smith's songs. Since they have the space, he and Egan thought it would be great to throw an art show there.

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McElroy says all the details with the wall are done for a specific purpose, from the flesh tones to the matte paint, rather than glossy. According to a release from Ramiken Crucible, the gallery behind Egan's art show, the "Denude" theme has several meanings:

If Denude has value as the title of this art exhibition, it is because this title has multiple simultaneous utilities. Denude means to strip away, to lay bare. Denude refers to the demolished nature of the physical space this exhibition inhabits, which will soon become a restaurant. And Denude is a possibility for the future, that there might be a way forward in America not by becoming more tolerant, but by stripping falsehoods away.

There isn't an exact public opening date for the art show yet, but McElroy says it should be next weekend, and he may open it for a few hours at a time. In the meantime, you can enjoy the new look of the mural as you pass it by.

Update 11/23, 8:50 a.m.: In an earlier version of this story, McElroy said that they were thinking about painting the mural back to its earlier colors in about a month's now. Since the interview, that plan has now changed, and it's not clear how long the new mural will stay up, if not indefinitely.