L.A. Painter Finds Inspiration in Fire and Protest

Sandy Rodriguez is an artist in residence at Art + Practice in Leimert Park. Rodriguez is currently working on paintings inspired by social unrest in Ferguson, Mo., Mexico City, and Los Angeles. (Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

Images of fire, protests and tear gas from Ferguson, Missouri, Mexico City and downtown Los Angeles have circled the globe through social media the last six months. They landed in the inbox of painter Sandy Rodriguez, who works out of a studio in South L.A.'s Leimert Park.

Sandy Rodriguez has a 9-to-5 job at the Getty’s education department. During her off hours, she paints at a former hair salon converted into an artist studio.

"I'm one of three artists in residence with Art + Practice Foundation here in Leimert Park," Rodriguez says. "This is the first year of the program. It is a 14-month residency, so I get to create and just work here for 14 months. Started in August of 2014."

When she started the residency, she proposed a dozen paintings about Leimert Park’s revitalization. She painted a 1920s home, a street scene and the nighttime fog of nearby Mar Vista.

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And then Ferguson, Missouri, happened.

One of her paintings includes an image of a McDonald's restaurant.

"A number of reporters and people had been arrested inside a McDonald's in Ferguson during the first few days of the demonstrations, and they were being accused of trespassing in a public space. You hope that you include just a little bit of information, that it’ll jog recent memory and conversations and think about a lot of topics that come up, right?" Rodriguez says.

Read the full story and see photos of Rodriguez's work via KPCC

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