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Only In Santa Cruz

Wed, Apr 17, 2019

5 Public Art Murals in Downtown Santa Cruz

If you’re looking for art, we, of course, recommend spending an afternoon strolling through the MAH.

You may also want to create an Art Experience Sandwich™ and explore some of Downtown Santa Cruz’s best murals before and after your museum day.

To help with your guided strolling, here’s a list of creative goodness to stop and appreciate while you’re downtown. (By the way, all of these were made possible by Santa Cruz City Arts and their amazing crew of Arts Commissioners.)

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1. Discover the Origins of Santa Cruz in the Beach Flats Mural

After a 23-year-old mural in Beach Flats Park was unexpectedly white-washed by the City of Santa Cruz in 2014, the Beach Flats community responded with a new mural developed with neighbors and directed by Irene Juárez O’Connell.

The mural, entitled Aprendiendo del Pasado Para Vivir en el Presente, Siempre Hacia Mirando el Futuro // Learning from the Past, Living in the Present, Looking Towards the Future, stretches across seven panels paying homage to those who shaped Santa Cruz. You’ll find one of the three Hawai’ian Princes who brought surf to Santa Cruz and native Awaswas-speaking Ohlone people right alongside recent moments and memories from Beach Flats community members.

O'Connell said this in a public statement about the piece:

“This mural is being created in honor of all the life that has moved through the place that is now called the Beach Flats Neighborhood–from the multitudes of life that is brought by the River that flows nearby, to the passing of time that has brought generations of cultures and histories to the area."
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2. Celebrate Jazz Greats next to Kuumbwa Jazz Center

Immerse yourself in 35 years of Kuumbwa Jazz Center’s history along Jazz Alley, a large-scale mural by Marvin Plummer.

You’ll find some of the greats that became regulars at the Kuumbwa over the years, like bassist Christian McBride, violinist Regina Carter, and trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

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3. Imagine Connected Community in Abbott Square

Before Abbott Square opened in 2017, the community dreamed of a plaza where families and friends could connect with each other over food, art, and play.

Inspired by this motif, Bonny Doon-based artist Thomas Campbell was chosen in a competitive mural process to create Community Quiltage. Based on a physical quilt he created, the mural artists of ICA Arts recreated the vibrant squares in a lifelike way. Today, this colorful quilt is a beacon for guests of Abbott Square and the MAH.

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4. Unify, Decolonize, Thrive Outside Louden Nelson Center

Follow along a powerful visual timeline of adversity and resilience dreamed up by a group of 30 local youth from the Diversity Center and Santa Cruz Teen Center and produced by Emmanuel Garcia and Oliver Whitcroft.

Within the mural just outside Louden Nelson Community Center, you’ll find nods to local and national LGBTQ history: the first openly gay mayor of Santa Cruz, John Laird; images of the AIDS quilt in Washington, DC, and a family walking into the Santa Cruz Diversity Center.

“This mural is a symbol of our struggles and our resilience so that future generations remember: We exist to resist and we survive to thrive,” said Jamie Joy, former Diversity Center Youth Program Coordinator.

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5. Hunt for Santa Cruz Symbolism on Cathcart Street

Discover classic Santa Cruz icons and landmarks in the huge Surfin’ Bird mural by Brian Barneclo on the side of Old School Shoes.

Mixing together styles of Pablo Picasso and graffiti art, Barneclo nods to local favorites like the Boardwalk’s Sky Glider ride, the old Cooper House gathering place, and the iconic Clocktower.

Three Floors of Art

Drop by for an inspiring visit through our five rotating, interactive exhibitions.