Oil painting by Mark Vallen
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"Lost Angeles"
Mark Vallen 1992
Oil on canvas - 8" x 10" inches

Artist's statement:

"Six years after the August 12, 1965 riots began, I met an elder African American who was a veteran of the rebellion that convulsed the Watts community of Los Angeles. He explained to me in great detail what it was like to be in the middle of that social explosion. But his words took on a fervently poetic or messianic zeal when he tried to describe the sight of L.A.'s palm trees being set on fire by rioters. I never forget the vision of those flaming palm trees he passed on to me; little did I know that I would witness a similar scene in the future.

I created this small oil painting after witnessing the Rodney King riots of April 29th, 1992. The painting was an attempt to capture what I had witnessed; L.A.'s palm trees set ablaze during the mayhem.

The internationally famous icon of sunny southern California - the palm tree - lighting the violence torn streets of my city was truly a vision from hell. Since that devastating evening I have not been able to look at palm trees in the same way.

I treated this canvas as a sketch rather than a finished painting, and today I continue to work on a series of larger, more detailed paintings based on the same subject. Unfortunately, with the way race relations are going, will L.A.'s palm trees be blazing once again in the not too distant future?"

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