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Photos: These Silver Lake Stairs Are Getting A Colorful, Geometric Paint Job
A staircase in Silver Lake is in the process of receiving a burst of colorful, geometric designs thanks to a local artist.
In an effort to preserve and beautify the 52 historic staircases of Silver Lake, the area's neighborhood council launched an "Adopt-A-Stairway" program last September. As part of the program, community members were invited to sponsor and care for the public stairways in a variety of ways, including cleaning, landscaping, painting or organizing events. One of the neighborhood's residents who stepped up to the task of adoption was Casey Revkin, who lives by the corner of Westerly Terrace and Swan Place at the base of the neighborhood's steep Swan Stairs.
Born and raised around Silver Lake and Echo Park, Revkin saw the program as a great opportunity to brighten up the neighborhood and decided to sponsor the Swan Stairs. To help bring the project to life, she enlisted the help of her close friend Eve Dastmalchian, an LA-based muralist who works under the name Evelyn Leigh.
Leigh gladly accepted the invitation and last month began painting the staircase, which includes three flights with two retaining walls and a total of 326 steps—no small feat.
"I work in the world of geometric designs that embrace color and shape in a playful and dynamic way," Leigh tells LAist. "Silver Lake, as well as Los Angeles as a whole, is such an exciting place to be a muralist and a sign painter. The street art scene here is so vibrant and prolific—I really saw this project as a way to keep up that tradition and hopefully add to the beauty of the neighborhood."
For the first phase of the project, Leigh began with the retaining wall and stairs that begin on Rotary Drive. Using three different shades of blue she painted a cool three-dimensional, geometric pattern along one stretch of wall, which might be described as M.C. Escher meets Q-bert meets Dodger blue. The front portion of the wall reads, "Los Angeles, I'm Yours," which may be the name of a song by The Decemberists, but has since taken on a life of its own.
At the base of the stairs by Redesdale Ave., Leigh continued the geometric theme with a pattern of triangles in earthy browns and greens accented by yellow and light blue. For the third phase of the project—which is nearly complete—she's painting the front side of the stairs. The first section is in an entrancing array of deep blues that transition to a lighter, aqua color, while the next section will feature, "an organic and irregular color block pattern in warm, muted tones," according to Leigh. For the third and final set, however, Leigh tells us she's still undecided.
"I didn't know what Eve would choose to paint, but I am so excited by the results," Revkin tells LAist. "They are a wonderful gift to the neighborhood and to Los Angeles. I love that she has chosen several different designs to decorate the 326 stairs and two retaining walls. The eclectic mix of bright colored designs is representative of Silver Lake's diversity and creativity."
Both Leigh and Revkin have sons around the same age and are both members of the Silver Lake MOMS Club. The community group has been supportive of the project and many of the moms have helped out by donating time and paint.
Revkin also feels that the painted Swan Stairs offers a modern, creative touch, which could help Angelenos discover and rediscover the city's many historic staircases. "The majority of the surviving staircases are located in Silver Lake and Echo Park. They date back to a time before the majority of residents had cars," she tells us. "Today they are used mostly for exercise. My golden retriever Baxter and I climb them often. Baxter is named after the extremely steep street in Echo Park that ends in another historic staircase. Painting them is a nice way to provide a continuity with the city's history."
Leigh, for her part, is excited by how the project evolved as well, "My designs are bold, but I hope they complement the vibe of the neighborhood and/or the landscape of southern California," she explains. "The thing I love most about doing murals and the world of street art is the impermanence of it all. Your work lives someplace for a time and then it's gone. That's a good thing."
[h/t: The Eastsider]