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Melting Pot

36 x 36 x 2.5 in.

Acrylic, ink, cotton rag mat, 24k gold leaf, 99.9% pure silver leaf, vintage map, resin, on deep-cradled wood panel


Available for purchase

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Signs can tell you a lot--even beyond the obvious. The fact that Jim's is advertising tacos, pastrami and burgers may seem random at first, but it's signalling the historical/cultural makeup of Boyle Heights, where the restaurant is located. The area was among the city's most diverse beginning in the early-to-mid 20th century, a place where Hispanics, Eastern European Jews, Asians and African Americans lived side by side during a time of rampant housing discrimination elsewhere throughout Los Angeles.

Food has long brought people of diverse cultures together, and restaurants can act as an entry point to explore the unfamiliar and the exotic. Of course, today no one would consider tacos, pastrami or burgers exotic in the least. But the fact that most people are indeed familiar with all those foods is indicative of our great melting pot at work--in this case quite literally--bringing together cultural traditions and adding them to what we now readily recognize as the American culinary experience.

Micha Wexler, co-owner of standout Wexler's Deli and dubbed L.A.'s "pastrami king," opines on this culinary phenomenon: "It is uniquely Los Angeles-style, and when researching [for my deli], this certain type of place kept popping up, the little stand with tacos, burgers, pastrami, sometimes yakitori. And always named something like Tom's or Jack's. It's part of the LA food journey, very representative of who we are as a city."

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