Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t l o c a l s o u r c e f o r n e w s a n d i n f o r m a t i o n
Send PR here.
Iconic Santa Monica Mural Replaced with Collaborative Effort
By Melonie Magruder
August 13, 2012 -- A new mural will grace the wall at Ocean Park Boulevard and Main Street in Santa Monica that once held a nostalgic street scene painted 35 years ago by noted muralist Jane Golden.
The mural at the prominent street corner is about one-third complete, thanks to a $25,000 grant and input from branding agency SelectNY and some two dozen LAUSD middle school students who put their own particular “brand” on the emerging work.
“Working with kids is all about authenticity," said Angela Pih, managing director for SelectNY, adding that the agency’s creative success lies in authenticity. "Their excitement about this project and their dedication makes it a real, shared community project.”
Pih started last year to form a working relationship with Inside Out Community Arts Center, a local nonprofit that enriches the lives of under-served and at-risk youth through engagement in the arts.
Last Spring, they identified the wall space belonging to ZJ Boarding House surf shop that had once held Golden's 1977 tribute to Ocean Park and its fabled pier. ("Iconic Santa Monica Mural Succumbs to Age, Vandalism," December 2, 2011)
Over the years, the artwork had degraded, and a spate of recent graffiti tagging forced ZJ to whitewash over the image and start from scratch. (Because the wall was on private property City funds were unavailable to restore the work.)
According to Pih, ZJ had already tapped a muralist they wanted to work on the wall -- Venice artist Kristel Lerman – and the project needed a mentor. The necessary elements all came together.
The idea was that Inside Out Community Arts Center -- which has been providing theatre arts and multimedia instruction to disadvantaged youth since 1996 -- would unleash healthful creativity and build self-esteem, while teaching conflict resolution techniques in fun, safe and encouraging ways.
“One of the greatest components of Inside Out is our mentors,” said Varina Bleil, executive director of the education program. “Middle school is a critical age for these kids, when they learn to make the right decisions and connections.
"So, many of our alumni graduates are now mentors, Bleil said. "The younger kids look up to them for emotional and social skills. They learn accountability and respect.”
When SelectNY settled with Inside Out on the project last spring, Lerman submitted design ideas to develop, and the goal of co-creating a complete work with the children was discussed.
The local arts community was excited about the venture, and SelectNY worked with Inside Out and the youthful artists to develop T-shirt designs that promoted the project, Pih said.
The children researched designs focusing on a theme honoring indigenous Chumash tribes and environmental stewardship, she said. Six weeks ago, they started painting.
However, when Pih was scheduled last weekend to accompany the Inside Out artists to an unveiling of their work for parents and friends, she was dismayed to find that, “most of the children’s work seemed to have been painted over.”
“When some of the kids saw the wall Saturday morning, they recognized immediately that their work had been altered and were very disappointed,” Pih said.
“Kristel said she had just ‘touched up’ some of the work, but I feel that such a move just lowers expectations. This project is not supposed to be about us, it’s about the kids.”
Pih said that when Lerman initially submitted a project plan to the group, she was concerned that it wasn’t integrative enough with the children’s input and what they had been researching. Pih said Lerman agreed and the project got started.
“Everyone in this project signed up for a community cultural arts effort involving children,” Pih said. “We must allow them the freedom of expression we’ve been teaching and then honor that expression.”
For her part, Bleil feels that most of the children’s painting efforts are still on the wall, with very few corrective measures taken by Lerman.
Efforts to reach Lerman for an interview were unsuccessful.
“We had a conversation with the students about the collaborative nature of this project and I think most of them are very pleased,” Bleil said.
“Some of the kids are going to be returning with parents who are artists and working with Kristel to finish the mural over the next weeks.”
Though disappointed, Pih is happy about the children’s work.
“The kids’ participation was not as co-creative as we imagined, but their work is beautiful,” she said. “In the end, this is about supporting under-served children in a community arts project.”
|Copyright 1999-2012 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.|