New large-scale neon mural in downtown LA addresses themes of mental well-being

Patrick Martinez, a Los Angeles artist, called his mural "Only Light Can Do That, 2021."
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- At night, new shining neon signs light up the windows at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a museum and community center in downtown Los Angeles.

L.A. artist Patrick Martinez installed the large-scale mural and called it "Only Light Can Do That, 2021."

"When I created these neons at the beginning, I took them from the context of window storefronts, small mom and pop shops," said Martinez. "This is an opportunity to place them back in their into the context of what they're inspired by, and speak back to the community."

The exhibit contains more than 30 neon signs. According to the museum, this installation is part of the "Art Rise" initiative, which grew out of Los Angeles County's "We Rise" program.

"'We Rise' encourages well-being and healing through the arts," said Abelardo De La Pena Jr., marketing and communications director at the museum. "It's an initiative of L.A. County Department of Mental Health."

Martinez said he hopes his art provokes thoughts about the topics his signs address - like economic and social insecurity during the pandemic, hate crimes in the AAPI community, immigration, but primarily the healing power of creativity and community.

"Just to add to that visibility, right? Like those windows become mirrors right and you see yourself in them," said Martinez. "That's what I'm trying to make with the work, also it's just representation."

The installation is also a part of the effort to erase stigmas during Mental Health Awareness Month, which is in May.

"It speaks to the past year, you know, it's that darkness, trying to add some light to the past year in 2020 and moving forward into 2021," said Martinez.

The exhibit will be lit up through September 5.

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