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Barbara Morrison will celebrate SPARC's 35th anniversary with jazz

September 14, 2012|By Reed Johnson
  • Jazz singer Barbara Morrison at the entrance to her studio in L.A.'s Leimert Park Village in 2010.
Jazz singer Barbara Morrison at the entrance to her studio in L.A.'s… (Francine Orr / Los Angeles…)

For 35 years, SPARC (Social & Public Art Resource Center) has upheld its mission of using public art to make the world's built environments more beautiful, livable and humane.

On Oct. 20, SPARC will throw itself a birthday party with entertainment supplied by an artist of irreproachable humanistic credentials: Barbara Morrison, the legendary jazz, blues and gospel singer who has recorded more than 20 albums.

Morrison's list of collaborators over the years is so extensive -- Ray Charles, Ron Carter, Etta James, the Count Basie Orchestra, Dr. John, Terence Blanchard, Tony Bennett, Joe Sample, Nancy Wilson -- that it almost would be easier to draw up a roster of people she hasn't played with than those she has. Also spinning records at the Oct. 20 bash will be music producer/radio hosts Tom Schnabel and Betto Arcos.

Founded in 1976 by muralist and UCLA Professor Judith F. Baca, filmmaker/director Donna Deitch and artist/teacher Christina Schlesinger, SPARC has worked on projects throughout the United States, as well as in Latin America, Europe and India. Its signature project was recruiting 400 at-risk youth to help paint a half-mile long mural (The Great Wall of Los Angeles) on the concrete wall of a flood-control channel in the San Fernando Valley. Baca will personally lead tours of the Great Wall between 4 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 6 and Oct. 13 as part of the 35th festivities.

The Oct. 20 event will be held at SPARC’s home, the old Venice police station at 685 N. Venice Blvd. in Venice. For information and tickets go to


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