Muralist Judithe Hernández was a member of the East Los Angeles artist collective Los Four. Her newest public artwork, L.A. Sonata, will be unveiled at the opening of the new downtown Santa Monica Expo Station. Before participating in a discussion about whether artistic greatness comes with age, she talked about what she would have been if she wasn’t an artist, her cooking skills, and the book she can’t ever seem to finish.
What’s your fondest childhood memory?
So many! I grew up in East L.A. I could never understand why people said I was disadvantaged. It didn’t seem that way. It was a glorious childhood. The people, the colors of the houses, the gardens, and the saints in the windows.
Who or what would your mascot be?
Cyndi Lauper. (Laughs.) I think she’s great. She’s still in her 60s and still kicking. She’s awesome.
What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
What promise to yourself do you break the most often?
Staying on a diet.
What is your most prized material possession?
A brooch from my mother.
What’s the most frustrating thing about making public art?
Ooh. The audience that you have is a double-edged sword. Usually they’re great. But sometimes it can be downright dangerous. When I did a mural in the Ramona Gardens housing project, we were caught in crossfire.
What’s something that very few people know about you, or would expect about you?
That if I could choose a different life, it would have been a ballerina. They seem to be the perfect blend of athleticism and art.
If you had one more hour in the day, what would you do with it?
Oh gosh. I’d open the book that I keep trying to finish, which is an introduction to Wittgenstein that I can’t ever seem to get through. I promised a friend I would try to do that and haven’t done it yet.
What are you keeping in your garage that you should have thrown out already?
I just cleaned out my garage. Really old paint, so old that it’s now concrete.
Do you cook?
Mexican, Italian, Japanese, you name it. I’ll never say I’m a good artist, but I’ll always say that I’m a good cook.