Sacred Paintings Adorn Tacos El Toro

Patch brings you on a photographic exploration of hidden North Hollywood art.

If you’ve ever been stopped at the light at Oxnard Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard, you might have seen them, a series of ornately painted, beautifully chromatic Christian paintings. There’s Christ on the cross, there’s the Virgin Mary, and a Saint with a crown of fire.

The odd thing is they’re not on the back of a church, or anywhere sacred. They’re on the side and back of Tacos El Toro, at 5950 Laurel Canyon Blvd., which is also appointed with cartoon bulls and pigs on the front and inside.

Why are they here? Patch went on a photo trek to discover the answer to this mystery, and to share with you this unexpected art in the middle of our community.

Jaime Nambo, owner of Tacos El Toro, told us it was his idea, and the reason was as practical as it was artistic.

“We did it because of the graffiti kids,” he said, soon after his busy lunch hour on Friday. “They do a lot of graffiti in this neighborhood, and on our restaurant. But they respect sacred paintings, and they will not do it here anymore.”

In fact, ever since the first painting was completed on the west side of the building, the building has remained untouched.  

“We are Catholic, so this is art about our religion and our tradition,” Nambo said. “The painting of the saint is the patron saint from my hometown, Eronga, in Mexico.”

That painting, in the back of the building, is by the late Los Angeles artist Byron Rosenthal.

On the west side of the building is a painting of Christ crucified, and one of Mary. Both are by the Mexican artist Manuel Morales, who lives now in Pacoima.

“People love these paintings,” Nambo said. “They come in all the time and ask if they can have permission to take photographs. And we always say yes, this art is for everyone. Then I see they have put the art on the internet. People all over the world see it. Though people here in the neighborhood, they maybe never have noticed.” 

JR July 28, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Thank you for this story. This is beautiful, sacred art. The Mother of us all, regardless of religion, gives many gifts. The artist, or artists help carry out Her work.
Paul Zollo July 28, 2012 at 10:14 PM
thanks for your comment, JR - and I agree - this is beautiful art. I wish more businesses would take this lead and fight the graffiti problem with art. A brilliant solution, and good for the neighborhood. I live very close to this, and though I'm not Catholic I so appreciate the beauty of this work. Especially here!
JAGR July 29, 2012 at 05:27 AM
Now I gotta go see it for myself...and order some tacos lol...
David Rivers July 30, 2012 at 06:30 AM
I'm noticing more and more businesses (namely restaurants) putting up murals to prevent graffiti and it seems to be doing the job. There's Gugu's tacos on Chandler and Vineland that has pretty cool murals of the non-Catholic variety. There's also a nice mural next to Q-Cina at Cahuenga and Collins st.


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