Los Angeles, CA–Mohammed Mubarak sat in his studio one sunny Los Angeles afternoon, working on his latest rendition of a mural of Marvin Gaye. This mural, among several others the artist has painted of Gaye throughout the years, is set to be showcased in Hollywood during Black Music Week in June 2022.
“Marvin Gaye was one great musical genius from the Motown era of the ‘60s and ‘70s. He accomplished a whole lot before he was tragically killed,” Mubarak told theGrio. “His music was an inspiration to me and I just thought I would continue to pay tribute to him through my art.”
Similarly, Mubarak’s studio is filled with powerful life-size murals of Black artists and figures. A mural of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, the late wife of Clarence Avant who was killed in Beverly Hills last year is also in progress, sitting off to one side.
Born in Tennessee in 1952 and raised in Compton, Mubarak has seen the African-American community experience various shifts and changes. Speaking with me for theGrio, he reflected on some of his fondest childhood memories.
“I have some memorable memories growing up in Compton. Compton is right on the outskirts of L.A County and the City of Los Angeles,” he explained. “When we had the rebellion that happened in 1965—called the Watts Rebellion—some 30-odd people were killed in a period of 4 days.”
Following the Watts Rebellion and while still in high school, Mubarak decided to join the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party. He would come under the leadership of strong Black men of purpose like Bunchy Carter, who would later be killed at UCLA along with fellow activist John Huggins in 1969.