July 25, 2014

The ‘Great Wall’ of Topanga Keeps Growing and Changing Over Time

 

PHOTOS BY KATIE DALSEMER MESSENGER © 2013

The ‘Great Wall’ of Topanga Keeps Growing and Changing Over Time

The Great Wall of Topanga now boasts art from around the Canyon, including paintings by professtional artists, to supplement the ‘homemade art’ with objects made by its founder, Rick Denman. Denman started the wall to prevent the graffiti on the retaining wall below his house. Now, he finds that the art, while attracting mixed but mostly good reviews, has become a welcome part of the always growing and changing nature of Topanga. To find out more, go to the Great Wall of Topanga on Facebook.

Try to define art, especially good art, and your mind will get stuck in an ever-growing tangle of visual relativism.

With this in mind, I’m still surprised by the detractors of the “Great Wall of Topanga” because, and I apologize to the scholars, I think it’s “way cool.”

Built on a retaining wall across the boulevard from Froggy’s, the 3-D collage incorporates colorful, whimsical elements that also have—if you blink you’ll miss them—something important to say.

Last year, it was a sweet dedication to Topangan Michael Dean who passed away from cancer. The wall is the work of Rick Denman as a hedge against graffiti on the retaining wall below his house.

This year, it’s a quiet memorial for the children of the Sandy Hook massacre. It simply says “20 kids” with wooden figurines representing each child.

The ‘Great Wall’ of Topanga Keeps Growing and Changing Over Time

The Great Wall of Topanga has expanded to include a tribute to the 20 children lost in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Wall artist Rick Denman worked wooden 2 x 4s into figures of the kids playing.

“I have a 5-year-old and a 9-year-old, I can’t imagine what those parents are going through,” Denman said. “I felt I had to say something,”

Currently, “Toys Wuz Us” plays around with discarded toys, most of them from Denman’s own children.

“I just wanted to say something about what we do with all this plastic stuff,” he added.

Next, Denman plans to install some 300-400 pound Chinese terracotta statues donated by his neighbor up the road. Indeed, the “Great Wall of Topanga” asks, “Got Art?” Oh yes, and then some.