Efforts Are Afoot to Restore Forest Lane Brick-Wall Mural to Its Original 1976 Look

ForestLaneMural.JPG
Just one small stretch of the Forest Lane mural that's been there since 1976
Seems like only days ago we were watching those old home movies shot on Forest Lane, in which you catch a fleeting glimpse of the groovy brick-wall mural, between Midway and Rosser, painted in the spirit of 1976 by W.T. White students. The mural, done to cover graffiti that marred that stretch of Northwest Dallas for years, remains intact to this day, sort of: In recent years it's been altered a few times, most recently when someone painted SpongeBob SquarePants texting while driving, punctuated by an "R.I.P." tombstone.

That incident proved to be too much for Cathy Miller McCoppin, among the W.T. White Longhorns responsible for painting the wall 35 years ago. In August she took to Facebook to voice her displeasure, which spurred a mini-movement to restore the facade to its original look. Now, of course, there's the Helping to Paint the Wall on Forest Lane! Facebook page, to which a Friend of Unfair Park directed my attention this afternoon.

"When I saw SpongeBob, it infuriated me for a number of reasons," McCoppin tells Unfair Park. "I am sure the man who did it was very well-intentioned -- he thought it was a positive message -- but I didn't think it was appropriate for the wall. I also couldn't find a living soul who gave him permission, and I opened my big mouth on the Forest Lane page: 'Does anybody know anything about this?' And my phone blew up.

"So I started the new page and took it upon myself to do the homework and find out what needed to be done -- the permits and so on -- and was granted permission by the city to restore the wall, under the condition we restore it to its original artwork. So I am gathering information, and one of the original artists -- the main artist, as a matter of fact -- is going to help me recreate exactly what has been covered."

She expects the cost will be minimal, around $200 to $500. Right now, McCoppin says, the biggest challenge is finding photos of the original mural -- before someone replaced the original U.S.S. Enterprise with the next-gen version ("that'll be replaced"), before someone added that Chevy Blazer ("that'll be removed") and so on. Turns out, she was given a DVD of those old home movies about, oh, an hour ago. "And I have worked for the last six weeks, going to the Dallas Public Library and contacting historians, to see if they have photos. Unfortunately I can't find any before 1980." Surely a Friend of Unfair Park has something better than that.

And if you want to grab a paintbrush for the redo, let her know -- she hopes to do this sooner than later. And someone from the neighborhood, now a documentary filmmaker in D.C., hopes to come back and shoot a doc about the restoration, she says. "Though I can't imagine why," she adds with a small laugh.
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54 comments
Laurieleonard1976
Laurieleonard1976

I painted "WHAT CAN I SAY ?" in huge oargne letters with David Miller one night after a rowdy night at Harlows. Put  That back!

Brent H.
Brent H.

Thanks to the efforts of Mary Alsobrook, Stefanie Brown and others photos of much of the original mural have been uncovered.   Using this information I was able to re-paint a pretty good replication of the area where the wall had been blank and covered with tags.   So the temporary Spongebob artwork has now been replaced and the area now looks a lot like it did in the 70's including the correct Star Trek enterprise and the Mayflower.   Hopefully the entire wall will soon be repainted with original bright colors by serveral of the original artists.   Cuddos to all that are working so hard to bring this mural back to its original glory.      Brent H.Glen Cove, Meadow Park resident since 1964  

billy kennard
billy kennard

hey dallas miss those days of old the 70;s man dallas was rocking party at cardis ,marsh lane keep on trucking bid D,anyone remeber the kennards

william [billy ]kennard
william [billy ]kennard

yea i remeber that way on back when you could hitch  hike up one side an get stone then go back an get stone on any friday night alot of kids driving in there classic cars which werent that old then when gas was cheap enough ,and they painted the wall pretty cool too

Michele
Michele

I was in Mrs Neals art class in '75. Her art class a year after me did the wall in '76. There is a video clip I found that was made in the 70's I posted on the You Know You're From North Dallas When.. FB page that shows the wall. It's a 20 min video (not sure whose it is) but you can pause it every time it shows the wall. I've lived within blocks of the wall since the 60's. Still do. Restore it ... put me down for helping!

Mcmaster60
Mcmaster60

there some pic  in my year book ,, but shur you have that all ready

stefanie Brown
stefanie Brown

so far artists found from back then! the artist that did the painting way back in the day that are found are >>> Andree' D. Yost-Melzer,... Susan Roe,.. Dawn Gordon,.. Mary Alsobrook and helper  Thanks Mary for the info on this!

MattL1
MattL1

It takes a special kind of arrogance to think that student art from the mid-70s has such significance that it can't be complemented by statements by future generations.  The mid-70s may hold great nostalgic value for many, as everyone's youth ought to, but don't take yourselves too seriously.  I've seen pictures from that era.  When were mirrors invented again?

In all seriousness, the folks who contributed in the intervening years had something to say as well.  Can't we celebrate one group without demeaning the contributions of another?

stefanie Brown
stefanie Brown

October 15th will be Forest Lanes reunion and I need some helpers to help raise money for the wall.  I have talked to Cathy about this and we both agree donations are what is needed.  Also, I have talked to a few of the guys who are heading the big get together for next Saturday and have the OK from them to come out. So please email me at brownie368@hotmail.com I need any help before this date to contact me!

Gypsymoondancer53
Gypsymoondancer53

In what Realm did Carhy Miller McCoppin ever have in painting the original wall 35 years ago.I Know for a fact that Mrs.Neal's Art class was responsible to clean up graffiti on Forest Lane Never did i see a paint brush even in Cathy's hand .There were 5 artists and helpers .I know this as i was the artist who painted the beginning wizards arm with a zap on it and i helped to paint the alarm clock with the bloodshot eye and bells on the top of the clock.Also i know for a fact Mary Also brook was asked to come down  from Miss Pat Bookmans Art class and present her ideas for the wall to be painted and she directed the whole project with the other artists and helpers as she was an oil paint major and Mrs.Neal asked for her to organize and direct the original mural to be done as drawn by Mary and the other 4 artists.I know this to be factual as i am Dawn Gordon.

stefanie Brown
stefanie Brown

To me the wall needs a face lift and many I have talked to know the wall.  I"m of the generation that doesnt remember the wall being white.  All I remember is the students being out there helping out.  I'm so tired of people wanting to tear things down and I'd like to see this one stay put.  

Ed D.
Ed D.

The mid-90s refresh was sorely needed and they were largely faithful to the original. I thought replacing the original NCC-1701 with the Enterprise-D was a subtle joke in keeping with the spirit of the art and it's rejuvenation by the next generation of students. That said, the sponge must go.

Mary Alsobrook
Mary Alsobrook

Coddat I love it. It is for everyone who ever road down that road. The class of 76 just paint it " for every one " 

Coddat
Coddat

How generation ME to think that art can't evolve and must remain static. It's a community art piece, it belongs to the community not just the dinos of the class of '76.

Mary Alsobrook
Mary Alsobrook

Thank you Stefanie Brown. I sure am hoping to drive up there on the 14th, and work on it on Oct. 15th. Just need the paint, supplies and helpers. I must say when I was asked as one of the artist to come help restore the wall, it made my eyes water. Thank you everyone for doing this. 

stefanie Brown
stefanie Brown

I"m agreeing with Cathy on this one I befriended her on the Forest Lane group that I started as a joke.  I'm so glad I did because now she's helping with the other group we have on restoring the wall.  To make it just bitter sweet we found one of the major painters that did most the work on the wall.  I am glad to have met Mary Alsobrook on FB and to learn about all that went into their hard work to make the wall where it is today!

Thanks, Stefanie Brown

Syd_Nancy
Syd_Nancy

I photographed the original faded wall 15 years ago, for the Neighborhood association, they might have copies. I might have the negs, dunno. Th wall you see today was painted over to match the original. I believe WTW coordinate dwith them again. None of the original remains. The original was very sculptural and 3d. Today it's primary and flat. Do you remember the bong?

Dougsterfresh
Dougsterfresh

am i the only one who would prefer a blank wall to such an ameturish mural? im all for public art, but only if it looks nice, not like my kids sidewalk chalk scribblings. see downtown and bishops arts for good examples of what you want plastered on a wall forever.

Brent H.
Brent H.

Thanks Michele!  It was the video YOU located that showed what belonged in the blank area.

Your thoughtful efforts have been a great help   Brent H.    W.T. White 1976

stefanie Brown
stefanie Brown

 In all honesty I thought it would be a great gesture of the artists that contributed to what it was then.  I see your point in having future artists help out as well but I guess I was being nostalgic.  I've seen so much that has been torn down around Dallas because they were done with it.  I never thought I was excluding people out of this I was a child when this wall was being done and wanted to know who those kids were.  I have gotten a pleasure in getting talk to Mary Alsobrook who did most the painting.  Anyway, I am all for any help out there as well on this project and I work with jr high kids now and feel this would be perfect if they can see how everyone comes together in a group project.

Coddat
Coddat

Don't you get it, until the last of that generation dies off they will think that they are the great gift to the Earth ever. Everything that they did is beyond reproach. I can't wait till they are all in old people prisons (nursing homes).

Aman
Aman

Gypsymoondancer53,

You should have stepped out of art class and into English class every once and a while...

Joyful Wanderer
Joyful Wanderer

Dawn,Cathy has never once stated that she painted even one inch of that wall.  I don't see you stepping up to restore it.  All I see are condesending and self-centered diatribes.

Huh?
Huh?

that's bizarre!

Btexan
Btexan

Coddat,  I agree with you about not remining static.   That being said I never intended to leave spongebob up forever.   I just know that blank areas have always ended with tags. 

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Well then, let's put a mustache on the Mona Lisa, or boxers on David. It is from an era long gone, made by the kids of that era. As one who cruised with her boyfriend ni his Mustang past that wall back then, it has cultural and now, historical, significance, to Forest Lane.

What is with Dallas always wanting to destroy anything over 20 years old?

stefanie Brown
stefanie Brown

 I"m so excited and plus i'm off on the 14th!  Looking forward to it all  as well.  I think for myself this wall is one of the last things from my childhood still standing. They have torn so much down now.  When I drive by that wall I have to smile and have many memories that are all good. 

Cathy Miller McCoppin
Cathy Miller McCoppin

I would love to see the pix from 15 years ago however, I must tell you, most of the artwork that remains today is the original artwork. It has been repainted/refurbished twice but 75-80% of the images are the same. The plan is to bring the entire wall back to it's original artwork and coloration and we WILL get it done! If you find your pictures, please share them with me as they may be helpful.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

Apparently you're not the only one.  Nor are you the only person who wants to tidy up the city to meet their personal esthetic standards.  I don't much like my neighbor's pumpkin-yellow house. Some of us aren't too fond of the Calatrava Bridge. Others don't like the City Hall longhorns. Junkyards are an eyesore. Railroad yards. The Infomart is really a strange bird, come to think of it. Neon? Billboards? Name your eyesore.I thought living in this glorious mix-and-match -- as opposed to holing up a gated community or retiring to some rural Eden -- was what city living was all about. But I've always suspected that some Dallas residents are not really city folk at heart. Variety of the human and environmental kind makes them really nervous.Love to see what they have hanging on their walls or planted in their front yards.

Andy Hayden
Andy Hayden

Sorry the mural doesn't meet your high standards Rembrandt, perhaps if you pulled your head out of your ass it would look better!

Lloyd
Lloyd

I also think the mural is ugly.  Just paint it with off white graffiti-resistant paint.

Lloyd Bonifide

ChrisU
ChrisU

it's a high school project from the seventies. it's an interesting artifact from that era and yeah it is amateurish that's the charm. now would someone explain the deeper meaning of the mural to me please.  

Ed D.
Ed D.

Uh, yeah, I know what the original Starship Enterprise looked like.

Danny Scott
Danny Scott

Seriously?  You are going to compare some high school graffiti to Mona Lisa and David?  If this doesn't tell you how self-important these people feel, nothing does.  It is a mural, not a masterpiece.  It is was a project to enhance the community at the time.  If I no longer works for the community, it should evolve with the changes wishes of those who live nearby and see it everyday.  In answer to your question, I might turn it on you.  Do you or your boyfriend still have that Mustang in which you drove past the wall? How about those clothes you were sporting at the time?  They too were tokens of the time, but some things are disposed of because they have outlived their usefulness. 

Unlike some of those doing the posting, I actually live in Glen Meadow Estates, the neighorhood bordered by the mural wall, and at 50 years old, I don't think that I would be classified as a kid by any standard.  I honestly don't care what is done with the wall, whether restoration or something completely new and different. However, I will agree that SOMETHING desperately needs to be done. It IS an eyesore in its current condition.  And I dispute the assertion that just because it has been allowed to stand there for 35 years it is somehow "historically significant." Age alone doesn't grant that status. 

Coddat
Coddat

Except than the Mona Lisa and David aren't community art or a mural. The idea that a single group ( surprise surprise it's baby boomers) think that they "own" this mural even though there have been changes to it through out the 80s and 90s is insulting. Why should one group of dinos have final word? Don't yall have AARP membership cards to fill out?

Andy Hayden
Andy Hayden

In '76 or '77 I filmed it with a super 8 out of my friends car at 35mph. It's been converted to vhs tape since then, it only last about 10-15 seconds but you can use it if you think it will help.

Syd_Nancy
Syd_Nancy

I'll look for em. I recall it was a real estate broker that had the pictures. BTW she said that they were gonna put a anti graffiti clear coat on it, hope it doesn't hamper any new paint.

Smith Mail1
Smith Mail1

You can always go around the block so you don't have to look at it!

ChrisU
ChrisU

well i will certainly stay off both of your lawns

Andy Hayden
Andy Hayden

Listen Coddat the brat, I live at 3974 Calculus rd. please come by for a " face to face " anytime and will "discuss"  your last comment!

Coddat
Coddat

Time to change gramps colostomy bag, he's cranky.

Andy Hayden
Andy Hayden

You smarmy ADD brat! Isn't time you took your ritalin and watch another 12 hrs of your mindless MTV!

Coddat
Coddat

No YOU want the wall original, the city of Dallas really doesn't care.  If the City of Dallas wanted the wall original it would be back to being brick or painted white.  My main point is that imagine if 30(!) years ago a group of middle aged folks made a huff and said, "well that wall was originally white how dare you destroy the 'historical' integrity of it"  Imagine that you would have been highly insulted.  You guys are doing the same thing, over the last 30 years each generation has made changes, most of them minor and all of them in the same spirit of the mural why are young generations less valid than you?

Mary Alsobrook
Mary Alsobrook

Montemalone I like the steel post ideal. Coddat sounds like a kid. The baby boomer made Forest Lane a fun, happy place to be. By the the City of Dallas wants the wall original.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Yes, those changes are insulting.The 70s were a unique time culturally. That artwork was a visual history of the decade.Restore it, and put some of those steel posts along Forest to keep the drunk texting drivers from crashing through it.

Mary Alsobrook
Mary Alsobrook

Yes I would love to see it can you e-mail me. Inyanfd@att.net

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