There is a feeling driving through the tunnel on Malibu Canyon. What is it? Lonely, I think... Sometimes it seems the tunnel is crying. Big tears, water oozing from the huge stone wall on the north side, then running – crossing lanes and finally seeping back into the mountain. One Saturday morning, on October 29, 1966, a massive 60-foot-tall painting of a nude pink lady holding flowers suddenly appeared as you headed into the tunnel on Malibu Canyon Road. As word of the massive pink lady spread, and the traffic on the highway grew to a halt, city officials decided "The Pink Lady" had to be removed. Firefighters were called to hosing her off the rocks. It didn't work. Buckets of paint thinner were thrown on the rocks. It only made her pink skin pinker. As county officials worked on figuring out a way to remove The Pink Lady, a 31-year-old paralegal from Northridge, a woman named Lynne Seemayer, suddenly showed up on the road and admitted that she was the artist who did the piece. Seemayer said that she was annoyed by the graffiti that was all over the canyon wall ("Valley Go Home" was a memorable slogan) This artist and mother living in the valley couldn’t take it anymore. She decided she would change things. “The tunnel is an eyesore,” she said. “If someone is going to go to all that trouble, why not do something creative?” She would clean up the “eyesore” ...and so, over a 10 month period, she started to secretly climb up under the moonlight and suspended herself by ropes to remove all the graffiti to prep her new canvas.
At 8 P. M. on October 28 Seemayer painted the Pink Lady using ordinary house paint and by dawn it was completed. Literally overnight a legend was born. On Saturday, October 29th, the general public met the naked Pink Lady. Within a couple of days the naked lady, with her bouquet of flowers, grabbed the attention of the media and the public. She was a star. Arguably, it may be the location of the first guerilla art…and like the guerilla art of today, the powers that be don’t seem to respect or appreciate the gift that appeared out of thin air like magic. The Pink Lady lasted only a week. Seemayer sued LA county for $1 million for the destruction of her work, and the county counter-sued for $28,000 in removal costs. But since the painting was on private property, both cases were dismissed by the court. Days later, on Thursday, November 3, workers covered the painting with 14 gallons of brown paint. For some time after the painting was removed, Seemayer received hate mail and phone calls from people who felt the work was obscene, including threats of violence against her and her children. She also received a few offers from art galleries to actually show her work. Though gone, you can still see some of the pink come through. The next time you drive through the tunnel on Malibu Canyon, take a moment. Do you feel it? The Pink Lady lives. That’s why it feels lonely. Acknowledge her, tip your hat to her grace and to her creator. We will not forget you Pink Lady. Don’t be lonely. You are a part of what makes life worth living. You are art.
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