It’s About The Writings On The Wall

Photo Credit: Ari Renee Claire

Phil Leonard’s passion of murals started in 1992 while attending California State University, Northridge (CSUN), as a Psychology student. 

“They were adding the wings to the Oviatt Library.  There were some graffiti artists that did graf art on the construction walls.  Fast forward to after the 1994 Northridge earthquake in 1994 and they were doing construction to the new Media and Communication building.  The walkways were just dark and filthy and scary,” reminiscences Phil about getting the idea of doing a mural along those walkways.

He got together a group of his peers who considered themselves Renaissance Men—artists, dancers, painters.  Phil, being in student government at that time, wrote a grant to make the mural happen.  What started as a group of eight artists, which included Jason Van Winkle and Tony Carson, became a group of 46 artists and the mural became an artwork of 50 pieces.  The finished mural was featured in the Daily News on May 18, 2000.

The second large scale mural project Phil tackled was right after 9/11.

“I had a different approach to it. I thought it was a way of bucking up and focusing on moving forward.  So again, I was working with Tony Carson, Jason Van Winkle, Kira Johnston, Joaquin Javier, Steven Cordejo, and Oscar Pelayo. We did a giant mural of a variety of things that focused on focusing forward, and family; what we really need to work on and deal with this humanity.  It was a tribute to the victims and the survivors.  And that started with me getting the bug, doing murals around the city.”

Phil Leonard worked with various agencies around Los Angeles including TASK in Valley Village, where he worked with individuals with disabilities.  One of the murals include a mural on Sepulveda Junior High School on Reseda.  2010 was their last project since Phil started working in the world of entertainment and event production.

“In between, I had lost some passion, had an accident and got a concussion. The last time I was passionate about something was in college, doing murals,” shares Phil about his self-imposed hiatus.

PHOTO CREDIT: ARI RENEE CLAIRE OF YCFOTOSTORY


In early 2020, Phil Leonard put together Writings on the Walls, LLC, a mural and event company, formed to inspire and celebrate “the people, places, and things we love and have in common.”  He wants to ensure the company keeps the theme of love of self, of friends, and of family.

Some of the murals completed to date is the E.T mural in Granada Hills, the Kobe mural on Saticoy in Reseda, and the Bruce Lee/Muhammad Ali mural.

This Thursday, August 5th from 5pm – 10pm at the Big Wave Express Car Wash  in Encino, Phil and his team will be unveiling their largest mural to date!  This massive mural depicts the history of Encino from its founding in 1769 through the upcoming 2028 Summer Olympic Games.  Some of the elements highlighted on this historic mural are the Acorn (Oak Nut), Jose Vicented de la Ossa, Garnier Building, RKO Studios (Four Films), Sepulveda Dam, Model Aircraft Field, Encino Commons, and Encino Velodrome.

The mural team who made this project possible are as follows:  Phil Leonard Jr., Jason Van Winkle, Oscar Pelayo, Justin Ayala, Danny Ramirez, Randall Williams, Alon Karpovsky, EvelynElling, Chris Davenport, Betty Rosas, Lloyd Domingo, and Jeff Field.  The mural commemorates the 252nd birthday of the founding of Encino.

“You can’t ever really stop if you feel propelled.  And I feel propelled because of the circumstances in which people are in my life. And how events led up.  All I can do is respect that it’s not my plan. And just roll with it and whatever force guides me,” shares Phil about how this project came to fruition.

Visit their website and follow them on Instagram @writtingsonthewalls_la.

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