Five days before Real 92.3 FM’s first annual Real Street Festival, the grounds of the Honda Center were transformed into an outdoor arena that included two giant stages for R&B and hip hop performers, but the Anaheim venue’s staff also welcomed several artists to paint murals for an added special touch to last weekend’s event.
More than 15 different murals and art displays were on view in the fest’s vendor area, including cartoon and graffiti art as well as realistic artistic renditions of the faces of recently departed rappers Nipsey Hussle and Mac Miller.
Many people were excited to pose for photos next to the works of art, even if that meant waiting in line.
Ten different artists participated in the mural making, and the results helped make an area hawking products almost feel like a tiny town.
One painting that stood out to festival goers was a mural of a giant elephant elephant, a flamingo and a frog that was done by a team duo who have continually worked together for years.
Muralist and painter Angel Once put large-scale versions of his “Charlie” the pink elephant on three different walls throughout the festival.
For Once, Charlie is actually a piece of himself, as the elephant’s body is shaped in an O for the first letter of the artist’s last name. In some spots he fashions Charlie with a face to represent how the world really is.
“Charlie describes life in general,” Once explained. “He’s angry but it’s just a front. In reality everyone tries to act tough but once we get to know each other, we get along. I wanted something that looked angry but actually is a positive being.”
He also has a partner who specializes in painting the Swagger Froggy, a green toad with a unique flair to it. The two painted the colorful murals days before the festival to ensure they meshed well together and had positive messages.
Danny Mateo, a Los Angeles tattoo artist at 319 Art Studio, is the painter who contributed two Nipsey Hussle murals to commemorate the fallen rapper, entrepreneur and community activist who was shot down March 31st in front of his South LA Marathon Clothing store. Mateo says it took him more than 70 hours to create both murals.
Several artists and DJs at the festival also dedicated parts of their sets to Hussle, which made the murals that much more meaningful to guests who endlessly lined up in front of both for photos.
”Nipsey’s up there looking down on this wherever he is and he’s smiling,” said Mateo, who added he was honored for the opportunity for his art to be seen by so many people and for the feedback he received. “When I was in my early 20s I went to my first underground hip-hop show and I saw a lot of rap and I wanted to be apart of if and [now at 32] I got the call and I was like, ‘wow, this is on my bucket list.’”
The image of Mac Miller, who died in September 2018 from a drug overdose, also had plenty of fans gathered around it.
Inside the Honda Center, Big Boy’s Neighborhood radio talk show and car show had areas where guests could get tattoos, manicures and haircuts. Eight different vehicles were on view, and surrounding booths also featured murals or works of digital art as backgrounds.
An employee for Get Insurance Today, David Munguia, was live painting a mural for the company he worked for inside the Honda Center. He continually received positive feedback for the work he did at the festival.
Munguia explained that he went to school to become an animator but has always painted. He felt the Honda Center gig was a great opportunity to get his name out there to people who watched him work.
“Yeah, just to have people see it and to see people taking pictures of it and adding me to their story,” he explained. “I do animation so this is way different, but I love painting and when they asked me I was like ‘heck yeah.'”
Celebrated art the way Real Street Fest did made the event similar to Electric Daisy Carnivals and Burning Man festivals.
A feature of the festival was all three giant dome-shaped art installations that were each crafted in three days. During the day, festival goers could stand or sit underneath and be misted with water and get away from the sun, but at night the art installations came alive with an optical illusion of giant flames shooting out the tops and literally burning above people’s heads.
The artist and owner of Experience Incendia, Cory Glenn, says he always had a fascination with fire as a child and continued to play with flames as he got older.
He later was messing around with an 18-gauge steel sheet suspended with grade 80 chains and discovered he could keep the fire at the tops inside the structure. Glenn was able to turn his passion into a business of creating art installations.
“It took four days to put together before the festival and the best thing about seeing my installation in action was that I was super happy it actually worked,” he said.
Glenn also believes this is something people in the hip hop scene have probably never seen before. It made it that much more dazzling to see the crowds gather to be near the three installations, he added.
He has most commonly had his works on display at Burning Man, which is where he will next be taking his talents. Glenn vowed the domes there will be even bigger than the ones at the Real Street Fest.
For many of the other artists, this was among the largest venue they have ever painted at, and they were happy that the Honda Center staff reached out to them to get their works before more than 100,000 people over the two days.
“I love that I got this opportunity,” Once said. “I’ve just been observing everyone taking pictures and it’s been nonstop like all day. I have done a lot of festivals, but this is one of the biggest for me for the mainstream music world.”