Judy Baca and The Great Wall of Los Angeles


It was a thrill for me to meet artist/muralist Judy Baca recently. In Los Angeles, she is considered to be one of the more notable visual storytellers of  the city. One of her masterpieces is called The Great Wall,  a half mile long mural painted along the Tujunga Wash, in Valley Glen.  I spent an afternoon with Judy, who drove me alongside The Great Wall in her golf cart as she explained the meaning of some of the panels she and hundreds of others were working to restore.  From my story (Daily News, Sept. 16, 2011):

VALLEY GLEN — She was 30 years old when she applied the first of thousands of brush strokes to what became known as the longest mural in the world.

Now almost 65,  Judy Baca has returned to the half-mile-long mural she created three decades ago in the Tujunga Wash, where she has led a massive restoration effort to revitalize the painted faces and figures of Los Angeles’ past and has guided a new generation of artists into history.

“It’s an exciting experience to be back at a different time of my life,” Baca said one recent day, as she stood on scaffolding in the wash to retouch faded shades of blues and grays. “I like that I know a lot more.”

For the last two years, Baca oversaw hundreds of paid youth, volunteers and professional artists who worked to bring back the colors and details of eyes, lips, fingers and clothes that had been bleached by sunlight, dulled by smog, and cracked from wind, heat, cold and time.

On Saturday, they will gather at the mural along Coldwater Canyon Avenue between Burbank Boulevard and Oxnard Streets for a public celebration to mark the completion of one phase of the $2.1 million restoration project.

The Great Wall, known as a Los Angeles landmark and believed to be the longest mural in the world, is as much a part of the city’s history as are the figures and time periods depicted in it.

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