The Inner City Mural Program was the first government sponsored mural program in Los Angeles. Funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation with a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the project commissioned twenty murals between June 1, 1973 to May 31, 1974. Perhaps the best known is Kent Twitchell's "Freeway Lady," which faced the northbound traffic on the Hollywood Freeway until it was painted out in 1986. The Inner City Mural Program was also a pioneer in placing the first murals in Los Angeles on freeway retaining walls, on-ramps and overpasses. Among the five murals in the program that used freeway space was Judith Von Euer's "Flow Inversion Project: Inverted Freeway."(1)
After reading about the Inner City Mural Program in the newspaper, Von Euer sent Barbara Haskell slides of her work. Haskell, who was curator of Paintings and Sculpture of the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, and Luckman Glasgow, the project director, were responsible for selecting artists for the project. Von Euer was interested in executing a mural to work outside the confines of the studio and create a background setting for jazz and other musical performances.(2)
She initially wanted to execute the mural in Burbank, but was advised to seek another location because the Burbank City Council was opposed to murals. Glasgow informed her that two freeway walls were available. Von Euer selected the one in downtown because it reminded her of Pershing Square, where she and her sisters performed tap dance routines during World War II bond drives, and the Mayfair Hotel,where she performed jazz.
Because of the limited availability of scaffolding, the mural was executed in four days with the help of several of Von Euer's students at Los Angeles Valley College. Graffiti was removed from the wall and the outline of the design was drawn. The mural replicates a section of an 8' x 10' stretched canvas called the "Flow Inversion Project" which Von Euer was working on at the same time. Using six colors, ranging from black to gray to white, the design is dominated by four scalloped ellipses, each with a different pattern leaning in the same direction. Background bands reinforce the energy and movement conveyed by the ellipses. Von Euer described the mural as "a link between northbound Los Angeles traffic and Fremont St. pedestrian traffic. It is a diagram of a system of interactions, a backdrop for city events, street gangs, L.A. Fire Dept. Sunday morning maneuvers, Dorothy Chandler Pavillion (sic) viewing parties, and secret inner-city happenings."(3) Most of the $150 Von Euer received from the program was used to purchase six colors of Dunn and Edward's paint.(4) In 1994, she supervised the repainting of the mural by a crew assembled by the Los Angeles Mural Conservancy. Two trees that had grown in front of the mural were also cut back.(5)
1 "Inner City Mural Program," brochure, no date; "Inner City Mural Program," by Luckman Glasgow, "LAICA Journal," December 1974, pp. 17-18.
2 Interview of Judith Von Euer by Michael Several, August 26, 1985.
3 Artist's statement, 1974.
5 "Von Euer Mural Brought Back," Los Angeles Mural Conservancy Newsletter, August 1994.