Watts: Riots/Rebellion 50th Anniversary Commemorative Mural Project

SPARC team assembled of SPARC’S past partners in community development in the Watts area receives an award to create an art commission for the city. The SPARC team led by Judy Baca (SPARC’S Artistic Director) created in the UCLA@SPARC DIGITAL MURAL LAB with : Farhad Akhmetov, Carlos Rogel, Alice Patrick, Frank O’Brien, Daryl Wells and Kaelyn Rodriguez will create seven sites of public memory including important cultural assets culminating in a mural at the Markham Middle School. The intention is to make clear the events that precipitated the largest riot in American history in 1965. Today nothing remains of those events but a profound “absence” as the sites are without markers or memory. The sites, where significant events occurred will be marked via etched concrete sandblasted into existing sidewalks and connected via a walking, biking or car tour created for the public with didactic materials via memorial plaques and augmented reality through cell phone technology for the public to experience. Each site will contribute to the unfolding story of the development and escalation of the riots in the Watts area. While efforts have been made to improve conditions in the Watts community, many of the same issues are still affecting life in Watts today where the life expectancy remains the lowest of any city in California.


The corner of Avalon and 116th – the first site of historic importance will be marked by the Watts: Riots/Rebellion 50th Anniversary Commemorative Mural Project on the ground, with a logo for the project in permanent materials that directs people on the tour and marks the beginning events leading to the Uprising of 1965. In addition, cultural sites along the way are noted.
Markham (Edwin) Middle School – mural location1650 E 104th St, Los Angeles, CA 90002. This will mark the site of the painted mural above the entrance to the Middle school auditorium and a large-scale map etched into the concrete in front of the middle school auditorium ground.
Watts Business Center / Charcoal Alley @ 103rd – there will be markers in the ground of personal statements of those who lived through the riots. Use of personal quotes and statistical materials.

The artistic approach is both traditional and unconventional as the work proposed is more than a mural but also is a
tour of the Watts neighborhood through the vehicle of the Riots. The tour will also be available via a mobile phone geo-map application. The result will be a mural that represents the community’s dreams of the future while remembering the past.

03.01_Mural Sketch in Situ
03.00 Avalon-and-116th