Artists turn Highland Park home into a canvas

Photo by Martha Benedict

By Nicole Possert

The relationship between a modest historic Craftsman-style home in Highland Park is now permanently intertwined with its owners, the Zuniga family, and their Nicaraguan history. On Saturday, family members, artists and neighbors gathered to celebrate the transformation of the Zuniga’s home in the 5400 block of Marmion Way into a giant canvas covered with colorful images of birds, volcanoes and other reminders of the family’s Nicaraguan roots.

The brightly colored house, visible to passengers on the Gold Line trains, were part of the first phase of the Casas Arte Home Intervention Project, which brought together artists and organizations from the U.S. and Mexico.

“The project’s goal is to reveal the vibrance of these homes and encourage a sense of pride for both family and community,” according to a project press release. “Chosen by the family, the exterior painted design was customized to respect and enhance the architectural integrity of the structure and incorporate the homeowner’s family history, stories and memories.”

The paint and landscape intervention brought some needed exterior maintenance and incorporated designs that represent the native flora, fauna (like the motmot bird in rich oversized splendor), five volcanoes of that region and the black palm trees that are alongside the road leading to the town of Chichigalpa, Nicaragua.

Photo by Martha Benedict

Photo by Martha Benedict

“It is all about relationships – the relationship between the owner and the artist, the artist and the neighborhood, the neighborhood and the entire City.  The house is the ‘excuse’ to create relationships through art,” said Luis Ituarte Mendivil, Director of Consejo Fronterizo de Arte y Cultura (COFAC), the organization who developed this project in collaboration with Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park.  This transnational project has already worked with international artists to complete eight original paint designs on building facades in Tijuana, Mexico.

The home faces the Metro Gold Line light rail tracks in the short residential corridor where the train travels at a bit slower pace (25 mph) for good viewing. “We chose morning colors because as people on the Gold Line traveled to work each morning, we wanted this work to inspire them to think ‘today is a brand new day’,” said project artist Daniel Ruiz.

Just two blocks from the Highland Park Station, one of the most heavily used stations between Pasadena and Union Station, “the project will increase community awareness, beautify homes, and become a lightning rod to open up new space for community members and Gold Line riders to connect with each other,” according to a press release.

“History and art still thrives here,” concluded artist Ruiz.  The team is looking to find their next relationship and “house as canvas” along Marmion Way to build upon this first success.

Nicole Possert is a contributor writing about home and history. Questions or ideas? just email her at hello@theEastsiderLA.com

Related item:
Plumerias, palm trees and volcanoes on the Gold Line. L.A FWD


  1. Nice! I hope it is maintained well!

  2. What a great idea! Looks like the house is beautiful. I am looking forward to the next project.

  3. Awesome! A little bit more color for my ride into work.

  4. Good looking, but HPOZ approved?

  5. @Kevin…. I was wondering the exact same thing!!

  6. I love it! It’s not at all garish or loud. I wish all houses would look like this.

  7. Lovely! Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into the Silver Lake Honey Bear fiasco.

  8. This brightens up the neighborhood for sure. But I notice the landscaping is kind of sparse. To liven things up, perhaps a couple of mini volcanoes, canned recordings of toucans and some rotating mechanical buffalo you could try to shoot from the train.

    ps What is HPOZ?

  9. oh my ! Is it HPOZ approved ?

    God forbid ! What a bunch of busy bodies !

    You are probably the type of people who call the cops on your neighbors and complain when anything in your neighborhood isn’t perfectly coifed !

    This house faces the train tracks for gods sakes !
    Its nice to see as you go by on the train .

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