The Signs of ALZA

I’ve been putting off writing this post because frankly, I’m not a big fan of ALZA’s work. But I do have to recognize that his creative output pretty much defines the look of Northeast Los Angeles, for better or worse. Some time ago it seemed like Peter Quezada was the look of NELA, but I haven’t seen anything new of his in a long time, but ALZA is prolific: I seem to unexpectedly spot one of his latest signs almost every week. There’s a reason for the seeming saturation of his aerosol art; the man is persuasive. He’s friendly but relentless when it comes to pitching his sign idea for your store, and it obviously works. Though I’d rather see signs made with a brush instead of a spray can, I’m aware that many of the new pioneer residents into this edgy part of town (gag!) would lump them both into the same category of despicable urban blight. Thus, in an effort to thwart gentrification, I’m glad to present and promote the signs of ALZA! Click ahead for the gallery.

Trust me, I don’t go out of my way to take pictures of his stuff, I just walk/bike/drive by it all the time, and if I have my camera, click. But there’s way more of this around NELA, mostly in Highland Park.

I was surprised to see his work in Boyle Heights, but there it is, in all its informative glory. You’ll notice a recurring theme of tiny text.

The man does not shy away from bold colors and yellow outlines.

Though his pieces tend to be to promote a store or service, he also does some with positive messages. This one has a guy behind jail bars with the warning underneath to “stay out.” Also, “live to learn, learn 2 live”.

Underneath the donkey piƱata, the signature haloed ALZA name.

There used to be a painted sombrero wearing chile at Chico’s in HLP, but it’s now been ALZAfied.

A short lived piece on Figueroa.

At the locksmith shack by the Superior Market. “Art is the Key!”

“ALZA NELA Now & Forever” The man has plans for a place in history.

It’s safe to call this one his masterpiece; it incorporates most of his stylistic elements into a grand advertisement/social commentary. Not only does it promote meat, flowers, office supplies, and Internet, it also has the inspiring message “Jail or Freedom Kings and Queens, Uphold Family, Get Paid in Unity”. And a plug for Divine Forces Radio as well. This is classic ALZA. You just have to make your peace with it. Click here for a larger version of the picture.

Auto repair sign.

I didn’t see the trademark signature, but I’m confident this is our man.

Our last feature, a new sign for Martha’s Kitchen in Lincoln Heights. Notice the floating woman with flippers and the 4 legged comal. Click here for a closeup.

I guess somebody wasn’t satisfied with the vacant look of the cook, because a few weeks later someone came along with a paintbrush and added proper facial features. Nice use of corrective graffiti!

So there you have it, a quick glimpse into the art of ALZA. Even though whenever I see his stuff I just shake my fist and scream ALZA!!!!! you may want his truck to pull up and, uh, liven up your walls, so give him a call!

ALZA Signs
213.447.6087

13 thoughts on “The Signs of ALZA

  1. Homeboy is the reason why graffiti abatement is much more useful when writers are allowed a space to hone their skills. Punitive abatement only makes pintos out of stoners and artistic cholos. Nice can control homie, very 1980s wildstyle esque!

  2. I was at Flor y Canto on Figueroa one day, when Alza was painting the flower shop next door. It took him an extraordinary amount of time to do it. It seemed he spent most of the time in his car listening to music and chatting with his old lady while watching their little mocoso run around the street.
    At one point, there was a loud crash and he ended up breaking one of the flower shop windows with his ladder. A few minutes later he came into Flor y Canto asking (for the tenth time) if he could paint us a sign for “only $100.” I was thinking, shouldn’t he be concerned with the window right now? He’s a nice guy though.

  3. I was familiar with his signage, but didn’t realize how prolific he was thanks.

    ALZA demonstrates why there are municipal regulations to protect the public from excessive advertising signs. His painting looks like shit. He shows the art skills of a 14 year-old who dropped out before they got to the 2 point perspective lesson. I look at his work and all I see is pain. But obviously, tenacity has its merits.

    Last year, he did this huge sign on the Highland Park stationary store roll up doors. It was hideous. Luckily, the city threaten the owner with fines, or possibly graffiti abatement just came along and buffed it out.

    Not that all aerosol signs are bad, just his. I too prefer the brush painted signs, especially the folksy ones depicting “Tide” “Coke” “Sunny Delight.” I’d like to find a story about those sign painters.

  4. Pingback: And Then Along Came ALZA

  5. Alza’s SUV and it’s “artwork” are an excellent representation of his work, they both look like shit !!!

  6. You know what – compared to the wasteland of vinyl stick-on signs in the west SGV, these painted signs are kinda nice. I mean, not my taste in signage, but, at least it maintains some market for hand-painted artwork (or is he destroying it?)

  7. The hand-painted original artwork on Chico’s was destroyed by Alza’s spray painted additions. Oh well, until they change owners, I probably will never eat at Chico’s again anyways.

  8. I AM THE SIGN PAINTER YOU SPEAK OF,BEEN PAINTING SINCE 1985 WITH SPRAYCANS AND BRUSH SINCE 1989.I’VE PAINTED ON THESE STREETS WITH THE SAME MOTTO FOR YEARS.BEAUTIFY OUR GREAT PART OF THE CITY.NOW I KNOW ALL MY WORK IS NOT GREAT,AND IT IS KOOL EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE THERE IS MONEY TO GET IT DONE CORRECTLY.TAKE FOR EXAMPLE,YOU WALK INTO MIKEY D’S AND ORDER A BIG MAC,3 DOLLARS RIGHT?NO YOU DONT GET FRIES FOR FREE OR A BIG MAC FOR A BUCK.JUST AS NELA KINDA DONT PAY WELL.I DONT MIND A DOLLAR IS BETTER THAN NONE,JUST LIKE MC’D DOESNT GIVE AWAY A #1COMBO FOR A BUCK,I CANT CREATE WORKS OF ART WITH DOLLAR CANS.MONTANAS COST,AND UNFORTUNATELY THESE SMALL BUSINESSES I DO AROUND THE HOOD ARE BOMBARDED BY FINES AND TAXES THEY BARELY CAN AFFORD PRODUCT FOR THIER STORES,AND THEY DO NEED SIGNS AND SIGN COMPANIES CHARGE ARM AND LEG AND LIMBS TOO.SO WHAT THE FU@# ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO DO!?!!!ALZA IS NOT EVEN MY TAG OR NAME.ITS YOU YES ALL OF YOU WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!Asian LatinZulu Anglo GOD CREATED US ALL EQUAL,RAISE YOUR RAISE YOUR MIND AND CULTURE,ALZA LA RAZA TU MENTE Y CULTURA!213 909 5372 GOTTA GO FULLPROOF FIND IT ITS ON FIG!

  9. i like the paola market and i hope they dont buff because some old lady is pissed stay up ALZA

  10. Nice. ALZA got on the internets. Now if he could just find a keyboard without the ALL CAPS button stuck.

    “Now and Forever” Looking back at the photos I’m surprised how little has survived from these photos just 2 years ago. The oldest one I know of is behind La Fuente on the 5500 block of Figueroa. Think that one is at least 10 years old.

  11. Wow, I’m relieved its only one guy, I thought it was some wack style imitated by many. But to be truthful, sometimes Alza’s work seems to be a natural fit at certain locations and I did dig his “masterpiece” as I waited for the #83 bus on Marmion one cold night. Still, the style and overall aesthetic are “pretty sloppy Roscoe.” The works do their job of advertising and relaying info about the business and the alternative is what? Gang graffitti!(or how about a mural by a better talent?….Well, Playboy Eddie took the iniative while others slept!)

  12. the paola market store came out dope i saw you had besto and evak and the homie tore

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