Venice Bodybuilding Legend Schwarzenegger Depicted on New Speedway Mural
By Paul Chavez, Venice Dispatch
A new mural depicting legendary Venice Beach muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing his massive biceps has gone up near Muscle Beach on the other side of the building displaying another local hero, “The Doors” frontman Jim Morrison.
The Schwarzenegger mural in the 1800 block of Speedway marks the latest Venice artwork by muralist Jonas Never, who also painted the sweeping “Touch of Venice” mural that adorns the east side of the Danny’s eatery on Windward Avenue. It’s the second time that Never, 31, has provided a bookend mural opposite famed muralist Rip Cronk, creator of the 1990 Morrison mural and 1989’s “Venice Reconstituted” on the west side of Danny’s.
The eastern end of the three-story mural shows a young Schwarzenegger slightly twisting and facing the viewer, his massive black-and-white frame posing amid the backdrop of a monochromatic mountain landscape and a burning orange sky.
Schwarzenegger’s infamous workouts at the landmark Gold’s Gym in Venice helped propel the Austrian immigrant into a high-profile and stellar career in which he won multiple “Mr. Olympia” bodybuilding titles, starred in numerous Hollywood blockbusters (1982’s “Conan the Barbarian,” 1984’s “The Terminator” and 1987’s “Predator,” to name a few) and served two terms as the governor of California.
The artwork commissioned by sports supplement supplier and Muscle Beach sponsor ThermoLife was intended to embody the bodybuilding culture in Venice and Never said he chose to paint Schwarzenegger because he personified the theme the best.
“He parleyed the bodybuilding scene and became pretty much the American dream,” Never said. “He came here without much grasp of the language or the culture and found a culture that embraced him and a city that loved him.”
ThermoLife CEO Ron Kramer said Wednesday that he was pleased with Never’s depiction of Schwarzenegger.
“It’s amazing, especially considering that he doesn’t use a projector,” Kramer said. Schwarzenegger was a fitting subject because of his prowess as a bodybuilder and connection to Muscle Beach, which helped make him famous, Kramer said.
The mural remains a work in progress and the western side has yet to be completed.
The mural is the latest for the prolific Never, who has completed murals for several of the Floyd’s Barbershop stores on the Westside, Baby Blues BBQ in Venice, Venice Whaler Bar & Grill, Melody Bar & Grill in Westchester and the Dogtown Pet Spa in Santa Monica. Those are in addition to the 102-foot-by-50-foot, black-and-white “Touch of Venice” homage to Venice history and film that Never based on the opening scene of the dark 1958 film noir classic “Touch of Evil,” which was written, directed and co-starred Orson Welles, featured Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh and was filmed in Venice.
Cronk recently has refurbished both the Morrison mural and “Venice Reconstituted” and his litany of Venice murals include: 1990’s “Homage to a Starry Night,” the 1990 trompe l’oeil mural “Venice Beach” on the boardwalk and the 50-foot tall portrait of Venice founder Abbot Kinney at the western end of Venice Boulevard.
“It’s cool seeing Cronk come back and upgrading and changing his stuff,” Never said. “It’s flattering to be on the same wall as Cronk twice.”
Never said his Venice murals hold a special meaning for him.
“I never thought it would be possible to actually see my own murals in places that I want to go,” Never said. “I love Venice Beach, it’s where I grew up and it’s one of my favorite places in the world.”
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