Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Apr 25th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Art Attack

news 2muralBeach Flats residents vent over the loss of a mural, but is the city to blame?

First installed 21 years ago, the Beach Flats Community Mural featured snapshots of Latino families, and a balance between everyday life and the surreal.

Two weeks ago, the mural was painted over by the city of Santa Cruz, with plans to have a different one installed in its place a week later. But today, those plans are at a standstill.

While city staff say they went above and beyond the call of duty to work with the community, neighborhood residents like Reyna Ruiz, former director at the Beach Flats Community Center, are expressing frustration over the loss of their mural, and say they felt out of the loop in the decision-making process. It’s unclear at this point when the communication breakdown happened, or where to go from here.

“I thought that the neighborhood would have been invited to that conversation about their public space and about the mural that was there, because it’s not just a decoration on a wall,” says Ruiz. “The neighborhood as a whole never had an opportunity in a public forum to even talk about that first question—what do you want to do with the mural?”

Shortly before the mural got painted over, Ruiz made several frustrated Facebook posts about the art piece she loved. Her posts created a groundswell of concern culminating in a weekend meeting at Beach Flats Park with residents, two city councilmembers and city manager Martín Bernal.

The sudden opposition blindsided city staff. City spokesperson Keith Sterling says the city tried to make the community part of the discussion and had put out fliers in the neighborhood a year ago, informing the residents that workers would be painting a new mural over the old one. They received no opposition from residents at the time.

“Anytime there’s going to be a significant change like this, we want people to know about it,” says Sterling. “We take steps to try and reach as many people as we can. That’s what we do. It’s always hard to reach everyone. But we did do the fliers.”

Ruiz does not recall any outreach efforts a year ago, and says residents she’s spoken with don’t either. She was aware that something needed to happen with the mural—it was in disrepair—but she figured the city would hold a public forum before making any final decisions.

“The way this mural came to be, there was a big ceremony to welcome it,” says Ruiz, who now works as program director for Barrios Unidos. “There wasn’t even any goodbye. The important thing about that mural is that it is a work of art that has Latino content in a public space. I didn’t think it would ever get taken away. [These are] the kind of things you take for granted.”

The new mural’s artist, Mariah Roberts, feels stuck in the middle. She had collaborated with about 100 members of the Beach Flats neighborhood—a lot of them children—to design the new mural, which is already finished and ready to install. Now she is trying to stay out of the fray and just wants staff and residents to sort everything out before they use her mural—assuming using her mural is even what people want at this point. She does hope her piece finds a home somewhere in the Beach Flats.

 “I believe public space and public art can offer opportunity, no matter how difficult, to have necessary public conversation,” Roberts wrote in an email to the city council and arts commission. “I am hopeful that we can find common ground where all feel respected, reflected and involved.”
Sterling, who began working for the city last month, says the reason staff did not preserve the original mural was that the grant they received from the Mural Matching Grant Program only supported installing a new mural—not fixing an existing one—and the artist has to be on its approved list, as Roberts is.

“There are no closed doors, no final decisions. We want to make sure the community is fully engaged and on board with what we’re doing,” says Sterling. “I think when they see the outreach that’s been done, we’re hoping that they’ll see that we really have made an effort. If they have more concerns and they want us to re-evaluate, we’re certainly going to listen to that to see what we can do within the restraints of the funding grant that we have. This is something we intend to be in the community for a very long time.”  

Ruiz doesn’t believe the Mural Matching Grant Program is a good enough reason to arrive at a decision for a community mural.

“I think it’s up to the neighborhood,” Ruiz says. “We have to come up with a resolution that is more inclusive. Nothing is off the table.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise