City Hall Mural
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.
More about the mural History of Santa Monica and the Bay District by Stanton Macdonald-Wright.
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
- Displays in the Historic City Hall lobby to communicate about the project.
- 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
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 the poster prompts used in this workshop below in the Resources section.
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 contribute recommendations to the City around future public art commissions and policies around this project.
How to get involved
Meztli Projects developed several ways for the community to get involved, including a public event series (below) and a feedback activity worksheet to gather additional ideas from Santa Monica and other local communities.
The feedback activity survey is now closed. Responses from this activity are being incorporated into the Meztli projects final report summarizing community views and recommended actions. Public events continue and all are welcome. Join our email list to get informed as events are added.
Register for the events below and join the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs email list for updates and to learn about upcoming public Reframe 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 offer a 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.
Saturday, December 3, 2022
Related Reframe event: Prisms of Indigeneity at Barrett Gallery, SMC (in-person) / Related Resources / Video from Virtual Recap
Saturday, February 11, 2023 10am-1pm
Sites of Memory Tour (in-person) / Video
Wednesday, February 22, 6-7pm
What do you see here? - A feedback activity sheet workshop (virtual) / Related Resources / Video
Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 6-7pm
Memory Work Today - New approaches to telling stories about the places we live (virtual) / Related Resources / Video
Saturday, April 1, 2023, 3-5pm
Community Listening Workshop (in-person)
Saturday, May 6, 2023, 1-4pm
City Hall Mural Open House (in-person)
Saturday, June 3, 2023, 1-3pm
Other Histories of Santa Monica and the Bay District (in-person)
Thursday, July 13, 2023, 6:30-8pm
Screening of Town Destroyer mural documentary (in-person)
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.
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.
- CHM Feedback Activity Sheet (to print) / Actividad de interpretacion (para imprimir)
- CHM Feedback Activity (online form) / Actividad de interpretacion (formulario en linea)
- CHM Feedback Activity Background Resources
- CHM Recent History Timeline and Phase I Overview
- Indigenous Resource Guide
- Reframe Youth Poster Prompt Sheet
- Santa Monica Conservancy City Hall Mural panel discussion, January 2022
- LA County Illuminate programs
- LA Mayor's Civic Memory Working Group
- Recent Civic Memory and Public Art Projects
- (310) 458-8350