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Artist Paints His Vision of Peace on Wall of Art Gallery

January 24, 1991|DUKE HELFAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pass by the corner of 3rd Street and Sweetzer Avenue virtually any day of the week, and you will find L. S. Day perched on his scaffold.

Day, a Los Angeles artist, is painting a 54-foot mural titled "World Peace NOW" on the wall of the Allan Jeffries Gallery.

In one corner of the mural, a Greek figure of justice flees a fiery tempest. In the opposite corner, angels lead the same figure away, blindfolded, to a gentler world. Between both extremes are tranquil images, including the robed goddess, Nike, a figure of victory descending to a clean, grassy earth.

Day says the mural is his way of expressing hope for peace at a point in history dominated by global tensions. Interestingly, the artwork was started at the behest of an area peace group that wanted to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall, an incident that was thought by many to signal the beginning of the "new world order."

Gallery owner Allan Marion, who had been looking for someone to paint a mural on his building, donated the canvas, spending $1,500 to sandblast the wall and prepare it for the mural. A Los Angeles billboard company donated the paint.

Day, who started the mural last January, is about two-thirds of the way through the project.

"I'm depicting change here," Day, 53, said. " 'Old Justice' has had it. I'm talking about double-sided justice, where some get it and others don't. But 'New Justice' has come through the war. She's turned away from it, victorious. She is equality for all."

However, Day may not be able to continue his work if he is unable to find a sponsor. The only financial aid he has received was from Marion, who has contributed an additional $1,000 since the beginning of the project. Day (known as Larry to his friends) says he has spent the equivalent of $10,000 in professional time on the mural.

Day said he could finish the mural in about five weeks.

He said he hopes that in addition to his living expenses, a sponsor would pay the printing costs of posters and prints based on the mural that could be sold to finance an international art dialogue.

Day said he plans to organize a traveling art show through Europe with Eastern European artists to coincide with the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He said he has written to Czech President Vaclav Havel, inviting him and fellow artists to participate.

Day's mural and his plans for the art show reflect Day's philosophy on the role of the artist in society.

"We live in a time when artists are not given enough room to make contributions," Day said. "But artists have been at the core of society's social fabric for centuries. That is what I am doing here--raising people's consciousness with a public art form."

And people are noticing. "I have had hundreds of people comment on this piece of work," Marion said. "They are thrilled to have a mural in the neighborhood. I'll leave it up there as long as they want it."

Gary Fuss, the gallery's general manager, said the timing of the mural couldn't be better.

"When Larry started, our country was at peace," he said. "Now we have moved into war, and we need more images making a positive statement."

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