Will Mt. Washington’s mystery murals return as a memorial?

Photo by Matthew Smith

Last summer The Eastsider posted photos of several murals featuring playful images and strange characters that began appearing on the retaining wall below winding Mt. Washington Drive.  No one came forward to take credit for the Mount Washington murals, which vanished in mid August. It turns out the guerrilla artwork was the work of a band of young Mount Washington friends and artists, one of whom, 21-year-old Jack Rohman, committed suicide in late January after struggling for years with schizophrenia.  Now, one of Rohman’s fellow artists and friends, Zach Christensen, wants to create another Mount Washington mural in memory of his late friend. On Monday, he appeared before this Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council to seek their support to create a permanent artwork, according to Patch.  Christensen is still trying to determine what form that memorial mural will take:

“I’m just trying to rally community support,” Christensen said. “Jack was very passionate about the mural, and it’s something we really want to see happen.”The mural would most likely replicate the one that the young artists created last summer, which consisted of distinct surreal images pasted on each section of the 500-yard hill reinforcement.  A graduate of the University of South California’s School of Fine Art, Christensen said he’s still playing with what the mural might become should he receive the permission of the city. He may paint it directly on the wall this time, or return to the canvas method.

Either way, he said, mural will be a tribute to Rohman’s last great artistic endeavor.

Christensen is scheduled to propose the idea in June before the neighborhood council’s Mt. Washington local issues subcommittee.


  1. When my son Zack first approached me about this idea of a permanent memorial to Jack I cautioned him that it would first take a processs that involved City Hall and could not be mysterious, which was part of the fun of putting up the mural the first time, as the infamous BANKSKY (Exit through the Gift Shop) is known for.

    It would need to be transparent and require concesus from the community for City Hall to approve a location for Public Art. Za ck is a graduate of the USC Fine Arts Department and he is, as most artists are, very independent. The idea of going through a permit process with everyone weighing in on the approval process was something he chose not to do in the first place, which is why it appeared in such a mysterious fashion.

    Art is subjective, and Public Art can generates a great deal of critisism from the public but it is protected by the first amendment right for freedom of expression and there is no place in Public Art for censorship.

    Let us all support this artist’s love for his boyhood companion to reconstruct the Mural as a memorial to Jack.. It also will act to reinforse something they never teach students in Fine Arts Schools around the country, call it a life’s lesson for all of us…….It is better to ask for permission then to ask for forgiveness, especially when it comes to Public Art.

    Our Mayor is supportive and will do whatever he can to see that this memorial mural gets the permit, as it is personal for him as well. But he cannot and will not put his relationship with Jack above what the public process calls for when issuing a permit. Support must come from the community which is why Zack is making the rounds to organizations in the community trying to touch basis with everyone who has a voice. It is diffiecult for him to do this but it is again something only taught in the real world classroom, something we all must do no matter how dissapointing the outcome may be. Everyone has a voice and it must me heard. It is what makes our country great.

    WHEN WOULD NOW BE A GOOD TIME TO WEIGH IN? BE OBJECTIVE. It is not about your personal taste in art.

  2. I’m in. Let me know what I need to do to help make this happen. I will show up in Mt. Wash at this meeting if you need me too. Make it happen Zack!

  3. A memorial like this is a statement not only about Jack, his life, his passion, and his art, but also about the “family” of community that is this neighborhood. I hope the ASNC approves the project.

  4. I miss the art work that appeared and disappeared as suddenly on the Mount Washington bulkhead. However, the memorial should be a temporary art exhibit: other deceased residents may be entitled to the same privilege in the future and space to display such works on the hill is limited.

  5. The property above and below the bulkhead has been owned by the Self Realization monastery and Church headquarters for 85 years. This site is holy ground for over half a million people worldwide. It is a cultural site of real importance as it promotes harmony and brotherhood among the world’s great religions.
    It is completely out of place to put a couple of youngsters idea of art in a place of great natural beauty and historic and cultural significance.
    This property and the SRF Lake Shrine are two of the most beautiful spots that are open to the public in Los Angeles, the Lake Shrine housing the ashes of Mahatma Ghandi, founder of the non violence movement.
    I respect the Rohmans and the Christensons and their feelings but the Memorial belongs some where else.

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