Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Seen: The Great Wall of Los Angeles

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

It's rare to find something so noteworthy so close to my backyard (usually everything touted online is way out in Hollywood, Downtown or the Westside), so when I heard that the world's largest mural will be rededicated just a mere 5 miles from my home, I marked my calendar.

"The Great Wall of Los Angeles" is a long-running project of distinguished muralist Judith Baca, director of non-profit arts organization SPARC. The mural is a half-mile long of colorful, swooping art that gives visitors a visual timeline of the history of Los Angeles from the prehistoric times to the 1950s. The wall starts at Burbank and Coldwater Canyon and ends at Oxnard and Coldwater Canyon, right by the LA Valley College.

I loved the visual time traveling experience one gets walking the mural from end to end, though I was disappointed that a long wire fence separated visitors from seeing the mural up close. (Somehow, I figured I could come a lot closer than I actually did.)

Nevertheless, the mural somehow captured everything this land has gone through in broad strokes and bold colors. Like the controversial issues and tumultuous events it depicted, the mural painted before me roiled, twisted, swirled toward me then rambled far into the horizon.

It stitched together the many stories of Los Angeles I've heard since I moved here: the coming of the Chinese immigrants, the planting of the orange trees, the city's great transportation system pre-freeway and other moments in history. Finally, I had a sense of when these event were in the fast-moving stream of time and where I fit in in the grand scheme of things.

I loved the mural's dynamism and I was sad to see the painting end with the Olympics in Los Angeles. I wanted more! I wondered what other events would be mural worthy: re-strengthening the new subway system in Los Angeles, the epic Carmageddon that was not, perhaps CicLAvia?

Last Sunday was all about renewal; it seemed the whole community got into the mood as well. People were picnicking, singing, walking their dogs or just plain weekend dreaming.

The sight--a real gathering of a community--was a fitting complement to this ambitious undertaking encompassing every facet of a diverse Los Angeles.

Find out more about the mural on KCET Departures.


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