Judy Baca, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1976, paint on concrete. Installation view, Los Angeles.

Judy Baca to Expand Major Los Angeles Mural

During last week’s slew of openings for the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative in Los Angeles, artist Judy Baca announced that her 2,754-foot-long mural, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1976, will be expanded in the coming years with new sections, according to a report by Jori Finkel in the Art Newspaper. Originally conceived in 1974, the mural documenting California’s history up to the 1950s was completed over five summers and employed more than four hundred youths and their families. The mural was painted along a concrete wall of the Tujunga Flood Control Channel in the San Fernando Valley area of LA. Baca completed a restoration of the project in 2011 and is now planning to add hundreds of feet of new scenery to reflect recent history. The mural currently ends with images of Wilma Rudolph, who was an African American Olympic gold medalist, and American Indian athlete Billy Mills, who won a gold medal at the 1964 Olympics.

Baca stated that the next section of the mural will focus on images of radical protest from the 1960s. For example, the Olympic torch that Mills holds will be altered so that it is shown falling into a circle representing a generation on fire. Baca said that “these semi-hippie, but not entirely hippie, my-generation people have fire in their chests and they are met by the Alabama hoses and the dogs, and yet they are people in total peace and calm recognizing they must stand for what they believe in . . . We’re hoping this is going to be an inspiration for the next generation.”

In collaboration with the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), which was founded by Baca in 1976 and oversees The Great Wall, the artist plans to paint the additions indoors on a substrate and then transfer the material to the installation outside. SPARC is now raising money for this next phase of the mural. Debra J. T. Padilla, the executive director of SPARC, noted, “It costs about $600,000 a decade, and we have the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s to go”—in addition to the cost of a new studio for the production of the piece’s extension.

As part of PST: LA/LA, an exhibition examining the history of The Great Wall of Los Angeles will be held at Cal State Northridge’s campus galleries from October 14 through December 16, 2017.