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City Will Pay Only Part of Mural Repair

September 26, 2000|PATRICK MCGREEVY

Despite warnings that a notable piece of public art needs repair now, city officials said Monday that competing projects mean only part of the restoration can be publicly funded.

Artist Judith Baca, who oversaw the painting of the half-mile-long "Great Wall of Los Angeles" mural in the 1970s, told a City Council panel on Monday that sections of it are peeling, fading and crumbling away.

"We were able to determine the first 1,000 feet is in crisis, and must be treated immediately," Baca told members of the council's Arts, Health and Humanities Committee.

The panel recommended that a working group of public and private agencies be formed to determine the cost of the project and how part of it might be paid for by private sources.

Estimates for restoring the mural in the Tujunga Wash flood control channel have ranged as high as $500,000, although city officials said Monday the work might be done for $125,000. The Los Angeles City Council has allocated $100,000 for the project so far, and council members suggested Monday that the county and private arts groups might be able to help with the remaining cost.

"We believe it is a very, very important historic-preservation project, but at the same time, the city has enormous preservation and conservation needs within the city arts collection," said Roella Hsieh Louie, a cultural affairs official, during a hearing by the council panel.

The mural, said to be the longest in the world, depicts the history of Los Angeles, including its founding, from the 1700s to the 1950s.

City officials said the restoration project is important, especially at a time when some residents are proposing to create a new San Fernando Valley city.

"I think it's more important that it be restored at this point to remind people that we are one city, we are one people, and that retreating is not the answer," said Councilwoman Rita Walters, the committee's chairwoman.

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