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Jewish Historical Mural--Sans Color--to Be Unveiled Sunday

September 05, 1985|MATHIS CHAZANOV | Times Staff Writer

Doubts about the color scheme of the Fairfax mural faded this week as artists worked until dark to finish the wall painting in time for its scheduled dedication at 10 a.m. Sunday.

The mural, which features blown-up photographs from the earliest days of the city's Jewish community to the present, at first was planned to start with sepia tones for the old days and change to color for the latest scenes.

The first dark outlines looked stark to some observers, but as the work took shape, artist Arthur Mortimer decided that eight tones of brown would produce the right effect throughout.

"The final decision was not to include color, mainly because we are faithfully reproducing historical photographs, and with the exception of the photos in the last panel, the pictures are all black and white," said Yael Schy-Magram of the Jewish Federation Council's Youth Department.

She also said the end result was a striking contrast to colorful murals found elsewhere in the city.

"You look at it from a distance and it's really like photographs," she said. "The effect we were trying to get was like someone's scrapbook or photo album."

In addition to eight shades of brown, colored stripes may be added as a final touch to set off the mural's seven panels from their background on the wall of a delicatessen parking lot at the corner of Fairfax and Oakwood Avenues.

"It's really a son of a gun trying to get it done on time," Mortimer said Wednesday. "We may make it and we may not. We're getting up early and staying late."

The rainy weather at mid-week was a blessing for Mortimer and his assistants, Stephen Anaya and Perri Fleischman.

Sunny days cause little bumps of stucco on the wall to cast harsh, deceptive shadows, Mortimer said, forcing the artists to redo areas they thought were completed.

"A (cloudy) day like today is perfect because you can see what you're doing," he said.

Sunday's ceremony will include speeches, music and presentation of certificates to senior citizens and high school students who helped choose the historic photographs and paint the mural.

For the dedication, each panel will be covered by a bouquet of helium balloons, which will then be released in order as a sort of unveiling.

Schy-Magram said some people featured in the photographs will be present, as well as descendants of some of the earlier subjects and representatives of organizations whose members are depicted.

Also, the winner of a contest to guess the number of pints of paint used in the painting will be announced.

Sponsored by the federation's Youth Department and the Vitalize Fairfax Project, the mural was funded by grants from the Jewish Community Foundation, the Los Angeles Community Development Department, California Arts Council and California Council for the Humanities.

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