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SPARC Gives Los Angeles’ Historic Murals a Makeover

Graffiti StreetSome Los Angeles murals that have been around for decades will receive a much-needed touch up, as part of the new Citywide Mural Project. The project will be spearheaded by a team of artists from Venice’s Social Public Art Resource Center, or SPARC.

Recently, the team worked to restore artist Brother Boco’s mural, titled “Return to the Light,” a piece that has been pitted against the rays of the sun for as long as 20 years as it looms over the passing motorists on the 110 Freeway. SPARC worked diligently in the Los Angeles heat, taking care to trace each faded line and squiggle, restoring the work to its original glory.

The Citywide Mural Program is a partnership between SPARC, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the City of Los Angeles. Together, the partnership has pledged to restore nine murals across Los Angeles, in hopes of preserving and beautifying the city’s street art.

Street art comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. Some 80% of all graffiti is “tagging,” but 50% are pieces and large visuals, such as the murals SPARC is working to restore.

“We have currently identified nine historically significant murals, that art historians, scholars, and community groups have deemed important, urgent priority works that if there is no intervention they would be completely disappeared, lost all together,” said Carlos Rogel, the project manager at SPARC and coordinator of the Citywide Mural Program.

SPARC has deep roots in Venice as a local organization. In 1976, Judy Baca formed SPARC as a space where public art could be made, while artists from different backgrounds could express themselves and create art centered around social justice work.

As part of their program, one of SPARC’s first projects was the Great Wall of Los Angeles, a half-mile mural along the Tujunga Flood Control Channel of the San Fernando Valley. The mural depicted the stories of minorities throughout, giving them a narrative that may not have already been communicated.

The idea of street art as a mean of inspiration has seen a recent revival in popular media. Another LA graffiti artist, Saber, recently created a mural piece for the Long Beach Museum of Art, tackling a hot social issue by tagging the names of victims of police violence.

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