L.A. Freeway Kids

Background Information

1984, Glenna Boltuch Avila. 250' x 25'. 101 Freeway
Located along the south side of the Hollywood Freeway between the Los Angeles and Main Street overpasses, "L.A. Freeway Kids" is both a celebration of children and an expression of the exuberance and happiness associated with the 1984 Olympics.

Avila selected this site because of its size, shape and proximity to the Children's Museum and El Pueblo Historic Park, which attract large numbers of elementary students. She also liked the framing of the wall by palm trees, one of the city's most widely recognized icons, and the excellent views from the pedestrian walkways on Arcadia Street and the freeway overpasses. Large figures, between 18' to 22' tall, representing a cross-section of the racial and ethnic composition of the city, are arranged into various playful activities to form a cohesive pattern of movement. This design, which can be easily organized, read and understood, is responsive to the limited perception of a motorist.

Avila first prepared drawings from slides of children engaged in a variety of athletic activities. In some cases, she changed the color of the clothes for compositional purposes. T-shirts were also added identifying prominent southern California landmarks, such as the L.A. Zoo, the Children's Museum, Disneyland and UCLA. Slides of the drawings were projected upon four-foot paper sections, then made into stencils by punching holes along the lines of the projected images. The stencils were taped to the primed wall, pounded with chalk, and then removed, leaving an outline of the figures. After all seven figures were outlined on the wall, Avila had to enlarge the boy with the ball on the far right and reduce the size of the running boy on the far left because the proportions were distorted by the wall being higher on the west than east. By transforming an impersonal and dreary strip of freeway into a special space which children have identified with, the mural has created a sense of place and helped an entire generation of young people feel the city is their home.

Text provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, April 1999.

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