In the 1970's, a young woman from Pacoima named Judith F. Baca moved to Venice with the hopes of becoming the next great American muralist. Echoing the New Deal cultural programs created during the depression under president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Baca, along with painter Christina Schlesinger and filmmaker Donna Deith opened the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in 1976. Its goal was to, "produce, preserve and conduct educational programs about community-based public art work," that reflected the social and ethnic realities of the city. SPARC's first large-scale project was none other than The Great Wall of Los Angeles, an almost mile-long mural chronicling the "unofficial" history of the city through the eyes of Native Americans, women and minorities. For more than 30 years SPARC, with Baca at its helm, has created hundreds of murals across Los Angeles and the US, setting a clear example of the transformative power of art.
A Woman Artist
"When you want to run away from traditional places you run to Venice. I left, wanting to be a serious artist and became one."
"The murals were integral to Venice. SPARC was right here doing the work and transforming our jail from a place of oppression to a kind spot of liberation, the spot of hope."
To Argue Aloud
"Here was this obscenity written on the wall and the people of Venice thought it was important to respect it."