Gail Cottman, The Garden of Oz

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  • Location:

    Los Angeles, California, USA (Map)

  • Status:


  • Artist:
  • Built:

    Begun 1991

About the Artist/Site

In 1991, Gail Cottman began working with her contractor, Manuel Rodríguez, to design a creative way to display her plants. Rodríguez laid a plain concrete bed, and Cottman began to ornament it, inlaying pieces of tiles and glittering beads. It is said that she was inspired by the story of the Wizard of Oz, and particularly the counsel that everyone could become his/her own wizard, so she soon began to expand the constructed and planted areas around the garden. She invited several of her local artist friends—including, notably, renowned ceramic artist Beatrice Woods—to help adorn the increasing number of paths and retaining walls of this hillside space.

Among the references to the Wizard of Oz are “Munchkinland,” with its yellow-brick road, as well as a “throne” for the heroine, Dorothy. Additional “thrones” are dedicated to Cottman’s favorite musicians, from Elvis Presley to Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and John Lennon, but also to those she considers to have been world-changing peacemakers, including the Dalai Lama, Rosa Parks, and Yitzhak Rabin with Anwar Sadat.

Cottman and her friend Musako Morioka, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, later created a “sister” garden, known as the “Garden of Us,” in Hiroshima’s Four Seasons Park.

On May 11, 2011, the Garden of Oz was declared Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument No. 996. Although the fence surrounding the garden is typically locked, most of the interior decorations are viewable from the street.

~Jo Farb Hernández

Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Los Angeles, California, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 34.117661 / -118.352039


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