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. The Final Report Executive Summary, containing recommendations that will be considered by Council in early 2024, can be found here.

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

2023 Phase I (Spring/Summer): Community Engagement

  • Creation of a Working/Learning Circle to collectively engage with topics around the mural
  • A series of in-person and online public programs
  • A feedback activity and guide to collect perspectives from the community
  • Changing displays in the lobby of Historic City Hall
  • Interviews with members of impacted communities and community groups
  • An Executive Summary of the Final Report on Phase I
  • A Final Report on Phase I, composed from the reflections and recommendations arising from the process and contextual documents

2023 Phase I (Fall) Sharing of Lessons Learned

2024 Lessons Learned and Recommendations go to City Council for review and potential approval; Phase II may begin

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.

Working Circle

In order to share knowledge and illuminate a diversity of community views, Meztli Projects formed the City Hall Mural Working Circle. The Working Circle was designed to be an intimate community group that brought 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 learned and shared their perspectives and ideas with each other, gathered input from their communities, and engaged in open dialogue on civic history, representation, and public art in Santa Monica. At the end of the process, Working Circle input informed a set of recommendations around future public art commissions and policies for the City, included in the Phase I Final Report and its Executive Summary.

Public Participation

Meztli Projects developed several ways for the community to get involved in Phase I, 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 were incorporated into the Phase I Final Report summarizing community views and recommended actions.

Public events continue to be added and all are welcome. Register for the events below and join the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs email list for updates and to learn about how the project is evolving.

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)

Thursday, November 9, 2023, 6-8pm
Open House and Community Mixer (in-person) / Blog post

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 possible reference to the Springs in the mural. More information here

Resources:

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


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