UGLARworks Art Collective: Telling Stories Through Art

UGLARworks painting a mural on S. Western Ave. and W. 2nd St. as part of their 2012 Public Works billboard project. Photo courtesy of UGLARworks.

Murals are hard to miss in Los Angeles. From the larger-than-life orchestra players who loom over the Harbor Freeway to the paintings on the side of your local store, they’re woven into so many parts of our landscape.

Artists Chris “Horishiki” Brand, Espi, and Evan Skrederstu—who all contributed to JANM’s Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World exhibition—started collaborating on art in the early 2000s as members of UGLAR (Unified Group of Los Angeles Residents). Altogether, the group comprises six local artists: Skrederstu, Brand, Espi, Steve Martinez, Jose A. Lopez, and Ryan Gattis. Later, their name was changed to UGLARworks as a nod to the Works Progress Administration, which supported the creation of many of the great public murals of LA. UGLARworks’ art can be seen throughout the city, whether on billboards or in the galleries of the Wende Museum. They’ve been honored by the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles and reviewed in the Los Angeles Times.

The members of UGLARworks consider themselves storytellers as well as artists. In 2008, they created The Ulysses Guide to the Los Angeles River (the original source of the acronym UGLAR), a book that showcases the wildlife and art of the iconic LA River. Narrated by the fictional Angeleno character Ulysses L. Zemanova, the dense book includes stories, interviews, and artwork. With the addition of writer and visual artist Gattis in 2012, UGLARworks now focuses on creating constantly unfolding narratives in their art that reflect their urban environment.

Come watch Brand, Espi, and Skrederstu paint a new artwork live at JANM’s Natsumatsuri Family Festival on Saturday, August 9, 2014 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. The UGLARworks members will also sign copies of the Perseverance catalogue following the painting.