Malibu Canyon Road in 1966. (LA County Library)

The story behind Malibu’s infamous ‘Pink Lady’

One morning in 1966, motorists discovered that a 60-foot-tall painting of a nude woman had been added above a tunnel along Malibu Canyon Road. The origins of the “Pink Lady” of Malibu, pictured above, were a mystery. But as word spread, many people, including newspaper columnists and art lovers, were smitten by the guerrilla painting. Others called it obscene. Government officials, claiming that the spectacle would distract drivers, declared that it could not stand. A week after the “Pink Lady” appeared, a county work crew covered it over with brown paint.

Lynne Seemayer, a 31-year-old paralegal, came forward as the artist, saying she had been dispirited by crude graffiti on the canyon wall. So, suspending herself by ropes under moonlight, she had scraped the old markings away and left the prancing woman in their place. “I gave them art,” Seemayer told LIFE magazine at the time, “and they chose not to keep it.” Though the painting was short-lived, it became seared into local lore. In January of 2017, days after the artist’s death at the age of 81, the “Pink Lady” rose again, if just briefly. A group of rogue Malibu residents, again under the dark of night, gathered at the side of the road and projected an image of the artwork onto the wall — a tribute and a wish for what could be.

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