All the Saints of the City of the Angels: Seeking the Soul of L.A. on Its Streets

An artist’s homage to everyday Angelenos

One fateful afternoon in August of 2000, J. Michael Walker began to notice how many L.A. streets began with the letter “S.” Upon further inspection, he discovered that something else was repeating itself: they were all named for saints! Thus began Walker’s quest to find and document every “saint-street” in L.A. Who named these streets after saints and why did they do so? What elements of the saints’ stories can still be found on the grid? Where and how does contemporary life intersect with traditional western lore?

Playfully borrowing from various artistic genres—from illuminated manuscripts to comic strips—and encased in a sumptuous gold cover, All the Saints of the City of the Angels combines meticulous research with creative inspiration to depict, in paint and ink, Angelenos both historical and contemporary. Populated by the portraits of both the famous and the forgotten, and filled with stories and secrets from every age, this beautifully offbeat volume peels back layers of western history to reveal the humanity underneath.

Walker’s large-scale paintings, which were the source for All the Saints of the City of the Angels was the subject of a major exhibit at the Autry National Center and was exhibited at the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels.


Winner, U.S. Review of Books: Eric Hoffer Award for Art Book of the Year

Winner, 2009 Independent Publishers Association Award for Best Regional Non-Fiction on the Pacific-West

Honorable Mention, Best Photography/Art Book at the San Francisco Book Festival


“J. Michael Walker sees angels everywhere, the divine in the ordinary, saints in survivors. And that, in our era of fear and rage, is miracle enough for me.”

—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street and Caramelo


“J. Michael Walker takes us on an incredible and fascinating historical journey of discovery utilizing both his stunning paintings and his amazing stories in All the Saints of the City of the Angels. This book is a treasure found; it should be shared and cherished by all.”

—Synthia SAINT JAMES, internationally exhibited artist and illustrator


“In company with 103 saints, we watch the small pueblo of Los Angeles unfold to become one of the major cities of the world. With sadness and joy, happiness and sorrow, success and failure, and yes, even life and death, Walker has given us poignant accounts of the geography of grace in the city he loves.”

—Michael E. Engh, S.J., Dean of Bellarmine College and Professor of History at Loyola Marymount University


“Art and history coming together at the streetscape level: inventive, erudite, and thoughtful.”

—William Deverell, professor of history at the University of Southern California and director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West


“Los Angeles has many faces, many dimensions, many roots. J. Michael Walker focuses on one of the most important—the naming of streets, mountains, cities, and terrains for Catholic saints, a legacy of Spanish and Mexican rule. It's as important as anything the Germans, Anglos, Irish, Hungarians, Armenians, Japanese, or Chinese have brought to these lands. They're all valid—and this book is a good place to start to find out why.”

—Luis J. Rodriguez, author of The Republic of East L.A. and Music of the Mill


“J. Michael Walker has created a moving people's history of L.A. that unites its past, present, and hope for the future.”

—Charlene Villaseñor Black, associate professor of art history at UCLA and author of Constructing the Cult of St. Joseph: Art and Gender in the Spanish Empire


“J. Michael Walker's book is an original, deeply empathetic spiritual geography of Los Angeles that sights present day sanctity among today's humble and downtrodden.”

—Laura Perez, associate professor of Chicano studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities


“This book does a wonderful job addressing the cultural and spiritual meaning behind the saint-named streets of L.A.!”

—“Man One,” L.A.-based urban muralist, graffiti artist, and co-owner of Crewest Gallery, Los Angeles


“Walker's narrative and drawings represent a sacred art for people who search for the divine in the wistful or worrisome faces of real Angelenos. A round of applause for All the Saints!”

—Jaime Lara, associate professor of Christian art and architecture, and program chair of religion and the arts at Yale University Divinity School

About the Author

J. Michael WalkerBorn and raised in Arkansas, J. Michael Walker came to Los Angeles by way of Mexico—a critical stopover that “explained” L.A. to him: its historical, thriving roots churning beneath the asphalt. Since 1984, he has participated in more than one hundred exhibitions; received a dozen grants, fellowships, and artist residencies; and has enjoyed solo shows in both the United States and Mexico. He resides, of course, in Los Angeles.