Social and Public Art Resource Center
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The Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) is a non-profit community arts center based in Venice, California. SPARC hosts exhibitions, sponsors workshops and murals, and lobbies for the preservation of Los Angeles-area murals and other works of public art. According to its mission statement, "SPARC espouses public art as an organizing tool for addressing contemporary issues, fostering cross-cultural understanding and promoting civic dialogue."
Inspired by the Mexican artistic movement that spread the social gospel of the Mexican Revolution through muralism, SPARC was founded in 1976 by muralist and activist Judy Baca, (who continues to serve as artistic director), painter Christina Schlesinger, and filmmaker Donna Deitch. It was an outgrowth of the "Friends of the Citywide Mural Program", a community organization dedicated to supporting Baca's work with the Los Angeles Citywide Mural Program, a city-funded project to beautify city walls and divert the energies of youth in gang-afflicted areas. The initialism "SPARC" was chosen intentionally, as the organization was intended to "spark" "a movement toward identity and justice."
In 1977, SPARC took up residence in a two-story Art Deco building that had served as the Venice jail since 1929. The SPARC building features a gallery, five artists' studios, a darkroom, and houses Baca's archives as well as those of Minna Agins.
SPARC's first project was the monumental mural project The Great Wall of Los Angeles, which is one of the largest murals in the world. It depicts scenes from the history of California on the side of the Tujunga wash, and was created by thousands of volunteers, most of them school-aged. Beginning in 1988, SPARC undertook a program called Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride, which painted 105 murals in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.
The SPARC website hosts an archive of digital images of Los Angeles murals (currently in development), as well as a discussion forum.