Motivation, Concept, and Execution of #staircandy

by original artist Carla O’Brien

I lived up the hill on Micheltorena St. Silver Lake for about 10 years, some people may remember my clothing brand Fortune Tee – the t-shirts with fortune cookie messages on them that came in Chinese Takeout Boxes. I had a store on Russell St behind Fred 62 in Los Feliz. From 2012 onward, I was back and forth quite a bit between LA and Australia and establishing myself as a Visual Artist. One of my Aussie best friends Mandon Bossi was also back and forth and loved the area, immersing himself in the Silver Lake and Eastside lifestyle, and always felt very much a local. He loved walking the streets and taking in all the street art. We often walked them and used them for exercise, and they were always pretty overgrown and dirty and covered in rubbish.

The Micheltorena steps in 2012, which were predictably dirty, and adorned with feces, and looked just like this in 2015.

After many night time walks past the darkness of the Micheltorena Steps, Bossi decided in early 2015, that the steps needed a bright makeover. Together we came up with the idea to paint the Micheltorena Stairs. We came up with a design to beautify them, that was simple but joyful – rainbow colored steps and giant red love hearts. The concept can be seen in this crop of the original 2015 design. As far as we know there are no surviving concept sketches from this period.

Original concept of rainbow stripes and hearts [I would like to add photos of Carla and Mandon, to the right of the image, and I would love to replace the image with original sketch or graphic]

We decided to guerilla paint them at night, and having never done this type of guerilla artwork before, and wanting to do it fast as possible, we needed a third person, and I enlisted another local friend of mine – Corinne Carrey to come along and help. Mandon and I did a prerun through the night before to test the light, work out the order of painting and the plan for our quick getaway in case we needed one. As it turned out we didn’t need a plan, since hardly anyone came past us on the steps. It took us about 2 hours to paint all 39 steps, they looked so beautiful at night…

#staircandy immediately after it was painted late one night in April of 2015

and even better the next day…

#staircandy the morning after it was completed in 2015

We were quietly confident the City wouldn’t paint over them, but every day when I came down the street I half expected to see them back to grey, instead it was just people happily taking photos and thoroughly enjoying them. After the painting, the three of us met and decided to name them ‘Stair Candy’, with the Instagram hashtag #staircandy. And that’s how #staircandy arrived in Silver Lake.