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Bra-Inspired Mural Turns Heads in Santa Monica

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

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By Jorge Casuso

August 2, 2019 -- Give Joe Nicoletti a building surface to paint -- the ceiling of LA City Hall, Rod Stewart's bedroom, Jim Carrey's closet -- and the result is bound to turn heads.

That's what happened with the wall of Animal Kingdom's Santa Monica storefront on the corner of 2nd Street and Pico Boulevard that Nicoletti recently finished refurbishing.

Artist Joe Nicoletti jumps with friends in front of Saskia mural
Artist Joe Nicoletti jumps with friends in front of Saskia mural (Photos courtesy Chameleon Painworks)

"I have a reputation for painting walls -- inside, outside, commercial, residential," said Nicolieti, whose company Chameleon Paintworks has painted everything from the Biltmore and Dunbar hotels to the inside of the late rapper Tupc Shakur's old apartment.

"Give me a wall, and I'll paint it."

So when the former owners of Vidiots commissioned the Santa Monica painter five years ago to spruce up the storefront's bland grayish brick wall, Nicoletti jumped at the chance.

As usual, the result was unusual.

Instead of spreading the paint across the vast canvas to create an image, Nicoletti painted each individual brick a different color.

"If I painted across the wall, I'd have to paint between the bricks," he said. "It's a real hassle because the brick is three dimensions. There's a half-inch gap between the front and back."

Once that decision was made, Nicoletti needed to choose the right colors to make the wall pop.

That's when he had a brainstorm. Why not paint them the ten different colors that matched those of his girlfriend Saskia's bra?

"I just thought confetti," he said. "Good & Plenty, something with movement, playful. Like a big bag of M & Ms. Skittles."

Entrance mural

Nicoletti took the bra to Cox Paint in Santa Monica and had them match each of the colors.

"It was a real head turner," he said.

Lenovo seemed to agree and used the Saskia mural as a backdrop to promote its latest laptop, Nicoletti said. He sued. He even took the bra into the meeting with the company's team of lawyers.

Nicoletti said he walked away with a settlement, and the wall gained widespread exposure with the online ad, which was viewed millions of times across the world.

And the Pico Improvement District, which along with the City's Buy Local campaign, paid for the mural, ended up with a new tourist destination.

Since then, Nocoletti's mural has made the list of The Most Instagramed Walls In LA and has become one of Santa Monica's most recognizable walls.

"There were tourists from Germany posing in front of it the other day," he said. "There was an Italian band. There was even someone praying up against it."

When the mural was tagged several months ago, Nicoletti decided to freshen it up. "The thing sparkles from every angle now," he said.

The wall, which he hopes will be a hit at Animal Kingdom's big pet adoption event next month, is a work in progress, Nicoletti said.

"It's going to be an ongoing evolutionary mural," he said. "I have plenty of more bricks to do.

"It's been a labor of love, that's for sure."

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