Theatre West and Artist Levi Ponce Celebrate Judy Garland in New Mural
On Sunday, October 27th, Theatre West presented a beautiful new addition to the urban art landscape in Los Angeles with the unveiling of local artist Levi Ponce's latest mural featuring Judy Garland. Painted in full color and pictured with the Emerald City behind her, the portrait immortalizes one of the most beloved singers of all time in her signature role - Dorothy Gale from the classic 1939 MGM musical, THE WIZARD OF OZ.
Drivers going south on the 101 freeway through the Cahuenga Pass will get a gorgeous view of the mural off to the right as they pass by the theater. Those familiar with the artist's body of work will recognize his vivid images and unique style, one that has come to signify the very culture of Los Angeles.
As part of the event, Ponce received an honorary lifetime membership to Theatre West, which is the longest running theatre company in Los Angeles. Founded in 1962, it has been home to such artists as Betty Garrett, Lee Meriwether, Jack Nicholson, Ray Bradbury, Richard Dreyfuss, Sherwood Schwartz, Sally Field, and Beau Bridges.
During the presentation, an emotional Ponce talked about his early work, saying he didn't start out trying to become famous as a muralist. He was "just trying to clean up my street and help my community."
His first mural to attract public attention was an image of actor Danny Trejo painted on the side of a building in Pacoima where Ponce grew up. Over the next seven years, his murals began to appear all over Los Angeles, from Pacoima to Reseda to Venice. And when Hollywood came knocking, his art gained an even larger following.
Along the way, he also found that he liked helping other people discover what they're good at doing too. He has inspired neighbors to work together on community art projects and believes the future is bright when communities work together for common goals. "All the good things that came to me happened because I was participating in my community," he says. "The best is yet to come."
Following the unveiling, the theatre hosted a reception, costume contest, and sing along screening of THE WIZARD OF OZ.