City Hall Mural

Introduction 

The Acknowledge + Reframe Together (Reframe) Initiative produces public art and civic memory projects that center community voices with the aim of creating a more just and equitable Santa Monica. As part of this initiative, Santa Monica Cultural Affairs has embarked on a public art project to consider the meaning, impact and potential responses to the WPA-era mural by Stanton Macdonald-Wright in the lobby of historic City Hall.  

 

The Reframe: City Hall Mural project includes a community engagement process that provides opportunities for the community to learn together about the mural and related topics of civic representation in public art. The project will collect and consider community feedback and contextual information about the depictions and absences conveyed by the artworks and after this process, develop an artistic response that engages with the full complexity of Santa Monica’s histories and communities. 

 

For the first phase of project planning and community engagement, Santa Monica Cultural Affairs has partnered with Meztli Projects, an Indigenous-based arts & culture collaborative centering Indigeneity into the creative practice of Los Angeles by using arts-based strategies to support, advocate for, and organize to highlight Native and Indigenous Artists and systems-impacted peoples. Meztli’s Projects facilitation team for this process is Joel Garcia, Robin Garcia Ph.D., Susannah Laramee Kidd Ph.D., and Rosten Woo.  

A final report about findings from the community engagement and recommendations from the process will be created by Meztli Projects and shared with the community and City Council, completing Phase I of the project. After this update, Council may provide direction to staff on the scope of next steps for Phase II of the project. This second phase is expected to begin in 2024. 

 

Mural Background 

More about the mural History of Santa Monica and the Bay District by Stanton Macdonald-Wright. 


Project Schedule: 

City Hall Mural Recent History Timeline and Phase I Overview

2022 Phase I Planning  

Spring - Summer 2023 Phase I Community Engagement

  • Creation of a Working/Learning Circle to collectively discuss and learn
  • A series of public programs in real life and on-line
  • A feedback activity guide and visioning tool to collect perspectives from the community
  • Interviews with members of impacted communities
  • A report composed from the reflections and recommendations of the Working Circle, excerpts from interviews and public programs, and key contextual documents
Summer - Fall 2023 Sharing of Lessons Learned 
2024 Phase II New Public Art response(s)  

 

Youth Poster Project 

In summer 2022, artist Glenna Avila led a series of workshops with local youth. Student participants were challenged with questions around civic representation and belonging and their resulting artwork was collected in a lobby display. See below in Educational Resources for the poster prompt used in this workshop.

 

Working Circle 

In order to share knowledge and illuminate a diversity of community views, Meztli Projects has formed the City Hall Mural Working Circle. The Working Circle is designed to be an intimate community group that brings together engaged individuals with diverse perspectives, histories, and ties to Santa Monica communities. These ties include local First Peoples, Marquez family descendants, students and young adults, local educators, conservationists, the Santa Monica Arts and Landmarks Commissions, City of Santa Monica employees, and others who work and live in Santa Monica. Members include Tafari Alan, Brock Ramon Alvarado, Kathleen Benjamin, Miguel Bravo, Roger Genser, Lizette Hernandez, Bob Knight, Ruthann Lehrer, Kimberly Marshall, Mona Recalde, Sharon Reyes, Emily Silver, Cathy Taylor, Paolo Velasco, and Zora Zajicek. 

 

Over the course of Phase I of the project, Working Circle members will learn and share their perspectives and ideas with each other, gather input from their communities, and engage in open dialogue on civic history, representation, and public art in Santa Monica. At the end of the process, the Working Circle will continue to develop recommendations to the City around future public art commissions and policies around this project. 

 

How to get involved 

Meztli Projects is developing ways for the greater community to get involved, including a public event series and a feedback activity guide to gather additional ideas from Santa Monica and other local communities. These public programs launch in 2023. Give feedback by participating in this Survey and join the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs email list for updates and to learn about upcoming public Reframe events 

 

Events: 

The Reframe: City Hall Mural project offers a series of civic memory conversations and activities to connect Santa Monicans' diverse histories and contemporary experiences. This process explores representation in public art and how community stories are told so that we can develop creative ideas for future events, public art, and policy updates. Each event will offera different way to engage with the process of considering the mural. The whole arc of learning events will provide community members with the tools to help amend and celebrate Santa Monica history and take part in Reframe!


Saturday, December 13, 2022

Related Reframe event; Prisms of Indigeneity at Barrett Gallery, SMC (in-person)


Saturday, February 11, 2023 10am-1pm

Sites of Memory Tour (in-person)


Wednesday, February 22, 6-7pm

Activity Guide and Teacher Training (virtual)


Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 6-7pm

Memory Work Today - New approaches to telling stories about the places we live (virtual)


Saturday, April 1, 2023, 3-5pm

Community Listening Workshop (in-person)


A final event for early summer 2023 will be scheduled and announced on this page, and the topic is being developed with the Working Circle to reflect community feedback. Please stay tuned for updates. In addition, the Kuruvungna Springs Foundation holds a monthly volunteer work session at the Springs on the first Saturday of every month and all are welcome. There is a reference to the Springs in the mural. More information here.


Educational Resources:

These links and documents come from a variety of sources, including the Reframe: City Hall Mural process, earlier events around the City Hall Mural, and other local initiatives related to civic memory.


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