Rediscover The Great Wall of Los Angeles
The CSUN Art Galleries, in partnership with the Getty’s initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, are displaying works by alumna Judy Baca ’69 (Art), M.F.A. ’80 (Art), a world-renowned painter and muralist, in a free exhibition open to the public this fall. Through Dec. 16, Judith F. Baca’s Experimentations in Collaboration and Concrete, curated by CSUN art professor Mario Ontiveros, will highlight the collaborative processes and aesthetic innovations central to Baca’s The Great Wall of Los Angeles. The world’s longest mural at 2,740 feet, The Great Wall runs along the concrete Tujunga Flood Control Channel (a tributary of the Los Angeles River) in North Hollywood. Painted in the late 1970s over the course of five summers, the mural was a collaboration between Baca and the LA community — with participation from more than 400 multicultural, at-risk youth and their families.
One of the goals of the exhibition is to raise public awareness of The Great Wall,” said curator Mario Ontiveros, CSUN art professor. “One thing that we have decided to do, by highlighting the production, is present a full-scale version of the Chavez Ravine portion. Alongside the reproduction, there are preliminary drawings and a blueprint of the mural.”
The Great Wall tapped the talents of local artists, oral historians, ethnologists, scholars and community members to capture the multicultural history of California from pre-history through the 1950s. Its panels include scenes of civil rights activists, native peoples, even Holocaust survivors living in LA. In 2014, the California Endowment awarded a grant to preserve and restore the mural’s historic sections, now more than 30 years old. The wall helped Baca “know I could do anything,” she said. “The process transformed me — it made me fearless, easy with criticism. Bring it on.”
LA Born and Raised
As she painted her first murals in the barrios of LA in the 1970s, Baca became known as “the mural lady.” She soon won worldwide attention and acclaim for painting the city’s urban freeways for the 1984 Summer Olympics. Her work Las Tres Marias is included in the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection.