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The Great Wall of Los Angeles: The story behind the world’s longest mural

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Part of "The Great Wall of Los Angeles" by Judith Baca
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Chicana Artist Judith F. Baca describes herself as a political landscape painter.

Growing up by the Los Angeles River, she remembers when a 40-year-long concrete project along the landmark was completed, and she got the idea to change the way people saw the wall there. And so, Baca’s project was born in 1976.

Today, The Great Wall of Los Angeles is a half-mile long mural with more than 400 of professional and aspiring artists who’ve worked on the project guided by Baca. It’s the world’s longest mural, and was inspired by the work of three major figures in the Mexican muralist movement, Los Tres Grandes: José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The project was a way to introduce at-risk L.A. youth to the art world, teach them about collaboration, and is seen as a window into the concerns of the community during the mural’s development.

The book, “BACA: Art, Collaboration & Mural Making,” edited by Mario Ontiveros, showcases more than 200 images of the wall, as well as the inspiration and execution of one of L.A.’s most notable landmarks. Ontiveros joins Larry Mantle today, to discuss its significance, and what we can learn about how and why The Great Wall of Los Angeles was made.

Mario Ontiveros and Judith Baca will be speaking about the new book this Sunday, October 22, at 3:00pm. The event takes place at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. For info, click here.


Judith Baca, professor of Chicana/o Studies at UCLA; LA-based Chicana visual artist, and subject of the new book, “BACA: Art, Collaboration & Mural Making” (Angel City Press, 2017)

Mario Ontiveros,  editor and a contributor to the new book, “BACA: Art, Collaboration & Mural Making” (Angel City Press, 2017); he is also an assistant professor of art history at Cal State Northridge