Historic muralist Art Mortimer is in the process of restoring his 1973 mural “Brandelli’s Brig” on The Brig building in Venice. [Photo credit: Benny Chan]

Art Mortimer restores his 1973 mural at The Brig in Venice

By Nicole Borgenicht

Historic muralist Art Mortimer has returned to restore his original painting “Brandelli’s Brig” at The Brig in Venice, which he started in early September.

Mortimer’s murals across California keep history alive from the Claremont Community Village Mural reminding viewers of its citrus industry center to Whittier’s Korean War Veteran homage and numerous others. He is also a landscape artist who depicts deserts, mountains and the ocean. Mortimer’s art has been exhibited in galleries, museums and government buildings throughout the state.

The original Brig mural was painted in 1973. Babe and Betty Brandelli, the owners of Brandelli Brig’s Bar at the time, were persuaded by the County of Los Angeles to allow Mortimer to paint a mural. Babe was a famous Golden Gloves boxer in Venice in the 1930s, and he and his wife were depicted in the mural standing in parking lot of their popular beer establishment. Mortimer is also included in the background, working on the mural.

“Art Mortimer is extremely focused and dedicated,” said David Paris, owner of the building The Brig is located in. “When he leaves his home in Twentynine Palms for a mural project, he stays in a hotel near the project and works nearly all daylight hours to get the project done and get home. He was eager to start right away, as a delay into late fall or winter would have dramatically reduced the daylight hours available to him.

Art will not work under lights; he insists on working in natural light.  For a month before he arrived, Art prepared extensively so he could hit the ground running, including rigorous photo documentation during a prep visit, photo-studies plotted with grid lines and the eight-sepia color palette selected and mixed. It’s not all work all day as pedestrians on Abbot Kinney and The Brig’s patrons on the patio behind him are frequently engaging him.  Art will politely answer all their questions.”

The mural had also previously been restored in 2001. Mortimer said that it is a historic building and the old layers are paint from old signs that keep peeling off as the years go by. This time his process is more in depth; besides peeling off underlayers, he has been cleaning the wall so that nothing will peel, and he has prepared to redo a lot of the original mural picture.

Mortimer uses a grid for all his artwork and creates a pencil drawing first. Now he is working with paint to restore and recreate the mural. The project time frame is about a month or more of working 12-hour days.

“Today I happened to see my earliest graphic design mentor in Los Angeles, renowned muralist Art Mortimer renovating his cool mural on the side of The Brig on Abbot Kinney,” said Daryl Barnett, a 30-year Venice resident. “Nice to see you again, Art!”