“People often decry Los Angeles’ lack of an official center, a heart that feeds the arteries that run throughout its neighborhoods, but it is this lack of center that creates the opportunity for democratic process that is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-faith, multi-historical, in essence multi-centered. It is not that the City of Los Angeles lacks heart but that it has many hearts, beating simultaneously and inexhaustibly.” – Pete Galindo
The Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride Mural Program was conceived as a citywide extension of the Great Wall of Los Angeles. Begun in 1988, the program has since produced 105 murals in almost every ethnic community of Los Angeles. Over its fourteen-year history Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride employed over 95 different established and emerging muralists from Los Angeles and around the country, trained hundreds of youth apprentices, collaborated with countless community based organizations, worked closely with the fifteen different Council Districts that make-up the city of Los Angeles, worked with minority owned businesses, scholars, and The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs all to produce images that speak to the multi-ethnic communities that make up this city.
As the first program of its kind in the nation, Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride has become one of the country’s most respected model mural programs setting a standard which has inspired other cities across the United States. Sadly, due to budget cuts and other issues outside of SPARC’s control, 2002 marked the final year of the Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride program. In the final year fifteen new murals were completed, painting a colorful ending to the mural program that helped make Los Angeles the mural capital of the world. Today the Great Wall and Neighborhood Pride murals continue to be visited by members of the local communities and visitors from around the world. The murals have proven over time to be a valuable lens through which to see Los Angeles by residents, artists and social scientists alike. For scholars, these murals hold the visual keys that give the voice to those often not included in the traditional historical recordings.