City of Santa Monica Announces the Acknowledge + Reframe Together Art and Equity Initiative

January 19, 2023 11:24 AM

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The Acknowledge + Reframe Together initiative (Reframe) furthers the City's goal of creating a more just and equitable Santa Monica through public art and civic memory projects. The City strives to cultivate an inclusive and fair environment where all people in Santa Monica, in particular disenfranchised communities of color, thrive, are welcome, and belong. Building on the experience of the Belmar History + Art project, the Reframe Initiative will continue with City Hall Mural project to address the WPA-era lobby murals in historic City Hall.

"I'm proud to see the City's equity initiatives continuing with this engagement around the City Hall mural," said City Manager David White. "I'm looking forward to hearing voices from our community so that we may move forward in this important work to address this mural and how we welcome our communities to City Hall."

The Reframe: City Hall Mural project centers on the meaning, impact, and potential responses to the controversial mural by Stanton Macdonald-Wright titled "History of Santa Monica and the Bay District," which was unveiled in the lobby of historic Santa Monica City Hall in 1939. In recent years, cities across the country have initiated community dialogues in response to public art that does not accurately reflect contemporary values. In Santa Monica, the City Council has determined that this lobby mural, in this prominent position of welcome into the seat of city government, does not express the full complexity of our histories and community. The City is therefore engaging a diverse array of voices and perspectives through a series of community conversations and art activities, with the goal of addressing the mural and potentially commissioning new artworks that will convey more of this land's history and better express our community's values today.

"We have brought on Meztli Projects to help lead this project and are excited to be working with them on this important consideration of the meanings, impact, and responses around the City Hall mural," says Cultural Affairs Manager Shannon Daut. "Meztli is bringing together community members with a variety of perspectives, histories, and ties to Santa Monica for an exciting slate of activities. As they are an Indigenous-based arts & culture collaborative centering Indigeneity into the creative practice of Los Angeles, we're looking forward to the resources they bring to this project."

The public is invited to participate in a series of Reframe: City Hall Mural events:

Sites of Memory Tour
Saturday February 11, 2023, 10am-1pm
Location: In-person - Kuruvungna Springs, Santa Monica City Hall, and Historic Belmar Park 

Activity Guide and Teacher Training
Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 6pm-7pm 
Location: Virtual - Zoom

Memory Work Today
Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 6-7pm
Location: Virtual - Zoom

Community Listening Workshop
Saturday, April 1, 2023, 3-5pm
Location: In-person - Virginia Avenue Park, Thelma Terry Building

More about the Reframe: City Hall Mural project:

The project is comprised of two phases. The first phase will include a community engagement process to share ideas and feedback about the mural and related topics of civic representation in public art. A final report with findings from the community engagement and recommendations from the process will be created by Meztli Projects and shared with the community, the Arts Commission and City Council, concluding Phase I.

Phase II will be informed by this engagement and is anticipated to include action around the mural and the commissioning of new artwork(s) that engage with the full complexity of Santa Monica’s histories and communities, commencing in 2024. For further information, visit the Acknowledge + Reframe Together and City Hall Mural project web pages.

Media Contact

Tati Simonian
Public Information Officer


Arts, Culture & Fun, The Arts


Recreation and Arts