Muralist Paul Botello has painted one of the most democratic works of art in Los Angeles County. The 82-by-36-foot mural, which adorns the side of a new City Terrace Park basketball gym, might also be among the largest.
The mural was unveiled Saturday at a party that included live music and poetry readings. There also were tours to show off $4.5 million in recent park improvements.
Botello, 38, surveyed scores of his City Terrace neighbors for ideas on what should be in his mural, "Inner Resources." Botello, a Pomona College art history professor, began working on the project in 1994.
He walked door to door, interviewing senior citizens, including those who had fought to rescue the park from gangs. Botello also spoke with gang members, as well as others in the community.
Those different viewpoints are reflected in the mural's portrait of life in Los Angeles, Botello said.
Anchored by a central figure of a woman praying for peace, the mural "is a representation of the community's spirit," he said. "This mural is for the people and by the people."
Local teenagers, for example, helped apply paint to the enormous figures, flowers and animals in the artwork.
The mural also symbolizes a resurgence of recreational activities at City Terrace Park, county officials said.
Besides the gym, a new social hall and several new play areas were recently added, said Gary Liebsack of the county Parks and Recreation Department. The park's two baseball diamonds were also improved.
The social hall will be home to several new performing arts programs, Liebsack said, including dance, visual arts and crafts.
Manuel Escobar, another parks administrator who works in City Terrace, said the mural and the new buildings are a culmination of efforts started about six years ago to rescue the park from crime and neglect.
"The park has always had a reputation of being a rough park," Escobar said. "This mural gives it an identity I don't think the area has had."