Anyone who has lived in Silver Lake for a while has probably seen the eternally tanned and shirtless Dr. Marc Abrams walking briskly through the neighborhood, head down while reading a folded newspaper. But what is Abrams, aka The Silver Lake Walking Man, doing strolling by the Brown Derby restaurant or through a pack of Victorian-era policemen riding bikes downtown? You will have to ask Silver Lake resident Nicky Gagliarducci. His new Sunset Boulevard mural combines images of Abrams walking from west to east across the landscape and past the landmarks of historic Los Angeles.
The 37-year-old painter struggled to find inspiration after Jason Michaud, the owner of Local restaurant, commissioned Gagliarducci to create a mural featuring the Walking Man on the four-foot high, cinder-block wall next to the cafe on Sunset Boulevard near Silver Lake Boulevard (Michaud could not be reached for comment).
“On hearing his request I have to admit it did not set off any creative spark enabling me to quickly jump to any ideas,” Gagliarducci said in an email “Initially I put him out of my head and said to myself that ‘I’d throw him in there somewhere, somehow.'”
But adding The Walking Man, complete with green trunks and white socks, into the muted historic scenes helped ease a sense of sadness Gagliarducci said he experienced as he worked on images of a city that had disappeared. “A sense of abandonment came over me of how fast L.A. changes and how our city rarely stood by these historic sites and removed or demolished them.”
Many people stopped by to share stories of The Walking Man during the month Gagliarducci spent painting the 25-foot long mural, which includes city scenes that start in the west along the coast and travel east to downtown. One person who walked by was, not surprisingly, Abrams himself. He even stopped walking to have Gagliarducci take a photo but it’s not clear what The Walking Man thought of being immortalized in a mural.
“I would mention to him at times that I was going to add him in the work,” Gagliarducci said. “He would just laugh and say, ‘Oh come on, you don’t want to ruin that beautiful piece of art by putting me in it.'”