More than a dozen murals along freeways in Los Angeles will be getting touch-ups this month, the start of a large-scale restoration project set on revitalizing what officials call one of the city's worldwide claims to fame.
The murals, seen from traffic lanes, bridges, underpasses and junctions along the 405, 110, 10 and 2 freeways, have been damaged by harsh weather, water, pollution and graffiti. Artists will remove some murals, restore them in studios and replace them. Among them is the 1990 "L.A. Marathon Mural," by Kent Twitchell, on the San Diego Freeway at Manchester Boulevard.
"It is quite an ambitious project, and it is one that's long overdue," said Margie Reese, general manager of the city's Cultural Affairs Department. "We call ourselves the mural capital of the world; our city is filled with these wonderful landscapes. We should be proud of them, and if you're proud of something, you protect it."
The city has about 2,500 murals, of which 52 are along freeways. Among the 40 murals slated for work is "L.A. Freeway Kids" on the Hollywood Freeway at Los Angeles Street. The 1984 mural by Glenna Boltuch Avila, meant to honor the city's richly diverse child population, features 18-to-22-foot tall paintings of youngsters of various ethnic backgrounds.
The mural is routinely marred by graffiti, its yellow background faded in spots.
Caltrans awarded Los Angeles a $1.7-million grant last year for the initiative, to be administered in part by the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. The money must be used by December 2005.