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.
Let me back up a little.
I love the summer for so many reasons. One big reason, it is still light out when I get out of work. I feel pure joy leaving the station and driving north on Pacific Coast Highway. I never tire from watching the sun set behind the mountains. Looking at the Pacific Ocean never gets old….
I love that I can see the sea. I take the turn onto Malibu Canyon and head toward the valley, amazing. It’s beautiful. Driving along Malibu Canyon is always one of my favorite rides. (Not counting the nasty construction work that’s got traffic down to ONE LANE creating huge delays that will continue until mid August. Not counting when a truck is going 15 mph and has 20 vehicles crawling along behind. Don’t those guys know, by law, if you have 5 vehicles behind you, you have to use the turn out lanes? Not counting when the deer jumped onto my car and totaled it. Not counting the slow poke, who like the truck diver, is driving so slow, and for some strange reason they, too, refuse to use the turn out lanes. Ahhh, but I digress.)
I love the light. Every time I approach the tunnel, I look up. I can still see some of the pink paint bleeding through from the secret painting that only lived for 5 days before the city murdered the creation. This truly being a prime example of when traffic and culture collide. LA County officials said they needed to remove the painting because it was causing a traffic problem.
What is it, I wonder, that could drive a woman with small children to leave her cozy bed in the dead of night for several days a month – month after month? Frustration? Anger? Inspiration? Perhaps a calling. Above the tunnel the rock was covered in graffiti. This artist and mother living in the valley couldn’t take it anymore. Thirty-one-year-old Lynne Seemayer, a para-legal living in Northridge, 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”.
In January 1966, Lynne Seemayer climbed up the mountain and removed all the graffiti off the stone above the tunnel. It took ten months and with the cycle of the moon she dropped a rope, suspended, she cleaned and made her canvas. On the night of Friday October 28, 1966, Ms. Seemayer painted a 60-foot Pink Lady.
And 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 like magic.
Los Angeles County road officials, said they were removing it because of the traffic problems the painting was causing. They attempted to remove it with high-pressure spray from fire hoses. No dice. Then they tried paint stripper. Still, no dice. Seems Seemayer had used heavy-duty house paint.
They did finally remove it, sort of. They painted over her with brown paint.Though gone, you can still see 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.
County workers paint over The Pink Lady November 3, 1966.