WEST LOS ANGELES : Freeway Plaque Honors AIDS Victims

Councilwoman Ruth Galanter unveiled a bronze plaque Thursday that will be mounted alongside a freeway mural created as a tribute to people living with the virus that causes AIDS and to those who have died from the disease.

The 23-by-34-inch plaque contains the names of donors--or their loved ones who have died of AIDS--who contributed $1,296 for a square yard of the mural, "Unto Ye Heavenly Garden of Knowledge," by West Hollywood artist Russell Carlton. It will be installed next month.

The ceremony culminated eight months of work by the 32-year-old artist to paint the 195-by-13-foot mural, located on a retaining wall of the westbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway between National Boulevard and Overland Avenue.

The project was developed as a fund-raiser for SEARCH Alliance, a Los Angeles-based AIDS research organization. Approximately $60,000 in contributions were received. Contributors were also able to sponsor a square inch of the mural for $1 or a square foot for $144.

Forty volunteers, including some high school students, helped paint the mural, which contains images of angels, lilies, birds, an embryo and symbols of scientific research. It is flanked on each side by painted red ribbons symbolizing the fight against AIDS.

Galanter said she hopes that, as motorists drive by the plaque and mural, they will be reminded that AIDS is a communitywide issue.

"All of us have an obligation to the families, lovers and children to those affected by AIDS," Galanter said.

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