Building History

The SPARC building, formerly The Venice Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, was an active jail from 1929 until the early seventies. SPARC made the jail its headquarters in 1977 and has loved to say we have “liberated” the space for the arts. It houses our Mural Resource and Education Center, our SPARC gallery, the UCLA/SPARC Cesar Chavez Digital Mural Lab, the Judy Baca Archive, the Minna Agins Collection, darkroom and etching facilities as well as creative spaces for working professionals.

The building is a two-story, reinforced concrete Art Deco building. Its exterior has a granite base and a stucco finish scored to appear like stone. The structure is set back from the street; in addition, the landscaping at the front consists of a lawn and ornamental shrubs around the foundation.

The front elevation is symmetrical and has a central, slightly recessed area, which contains; the entry, flanked by fluted, stylized pilasters and relief panels with a scroll design. A series of six steps with granite-clad side walls leads up to the entry from the walkway. Above the entry are three narrow, deeply recessed, multi-paned, metal sash-windows. Above these windows are relief panels with Egyptian-Revival-style figures. The central figure symbolizing justice is flanked by figures representing various trades.

First and second story windows on either side of the entry are set between piers topped by stylized Art Deco capitals. Above each of these windows are zigzag notchings. Above the second-story windows are medallions with stars. The side facades have a series of paired windows set between Art Deco piers.

The parapet which surrounds the flat roof is outlined with a zigzag-patterned cornice which is slanted inward. The parapet is extended above the entry. Visible from the east side is a large chimney, which has a similar cornice. A porte cochere on the east has four large piers and a flat roof with matching zigzag cornices.

The building has been maintained by the sweat equity of artists and SPARC is proud to call it home of the murals of Los Angeles as well as center for education on community cultural development work.