A new mural titled, “Bloom” will be painted by the artist Hueman on Neptune Building’s east-facing wall. The mural will commemorate Joel Bloom, a pioneering community activist who dedicated his personal time and energy over twenty years into creating the Arts District.
Before moving to the area in 1986, Bloom, originally from Chicago, graduated from the Pasadena Playhouse’s School of Theater Arts and served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, where he documented the soldiers’ daily life on film. While living in the Arts District, Bloom fought to bring light-rail projects to downtown neighborhoods, advocated for affordable housing, organized a neighborhood watch program, led downtown neighborhood councils, and fought to prevent the Los Angeles Unified School District from building a massive distribution warehouse in the area. Ever the playwright and actor, Bloom also wrote and staged productions to entertain those seeking a more unique experience, like live theater that could be enjoyed from the comfort of an automobile – laughs and boos would be signaled by honking the car’s horn.
The corner of Hewitt Street and Traction Avenue, where Bloom founded Bloom’s General Store in 1994, came to be known as the heart of the community. This humble storefront provided basic everyday necessities and classic video rentals to neighborhood artists, in addition to being a local hangout. Joel Bloom passed away on July 13, 2007 at the age of 59. "He gave the Arts District its personality, and he was unabashed in his great love for it," said Councilwoman Jan Perry when describing Bloom as the neighborhood’s unofficial mayor.
To celebrate the “Father of the Arts District,” the proposed mural will depict a bouquet of flowers blooming and breathing with movement, and creates a living wall symbolizing the vibrant arts community that continues to grow.
The artist bringing the mural to life is Hueman. In 2013, Hueman was one of the first artists commissioned to paint a mural after Los Angeles lifted its street art ban, and was named one of LA Weekly’s People of the Year in 2014. Her most recent mural projects include: “Mermaid on Main” located on Main and 9th in Downtown Los Angeles, California; “Inner Child” created during the RFK Mural Festival curated by Branded Arts in Los Angeles, California; “Red String of Fate” created during the Murals in the Market festival in Detroit, Michigan; and “Haiti Walls” created at the Academy for Peace and Justice in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti of the two valedictorians from the school’s very first graduating class, Class of 2016.
Painting of the mural is projected to begin in early May 2017.