HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – In 1987, under the 101 freeway artist Russell Carlton painted a panoramic mural called “The Blue Moon Trilogy.”
The mural was originally part of a fundraising effort for the AIDS Project Los Angeles 30 years ago. It is now being restored with the help of Carlton's former partner David Hubbard, members of the community, and City Councilmember David Ryu’s office.
“1987 was a really difficult time,” said Hubbard. “It was still the early years of the AIDS crisis and there was just a lot of fear and panic. [Russell] just wanted to do something that would be a standing affirmation to people who had HIV and who were fighting AIDS, and also a memorial for those who had lost their lives.”
Scott Haskins was brought on board to do the actual restoration of “The Blue Moon Trilogy.” Haskins is an expert in restoring large-scale public artworks and was up to the unique challenge.
“The paint was not great quality,” said Haskins. “In fact, it was pretty poor quality. It faded quickly. We put in a lot of effort to make sure that not only were we returning the mural back to its original appearance, and the artist’s intent, but we wanted it to also last more. We got a really high-quality enamel outdoor paint, which is eons better.
Carlton, who passed away in 1998, loved ancient symbols and mythic structures, which he used to construct his mural in three sections that outline a narrative.
“It really does tell a story,” said Hubbard. “The journey to self-discovery, awakening to our strength, to our compassion to take care of one another. I think the message is still as powerful today.”
Although the first stage of the restoration is complete, the bottom third, which was covered up with gray paint to hide graffiti, still needs to be restored. Now the restoration team is reaching out for funding to complete the project.
“We're hearing from a lot of people who are saying, ‘Wow! This looks really amazing,” said Hubbard. “But the thing is, it's not done. The entire thing needs be unveiled and hopefully we can find the funding for the bottom third.”
As the funding drive continues, Angelenos can still enjoy the newly restored portion and remember those who are lost and who are still fighting the AIDS epidemic.