I’m happy to report that there’s been an exciting uptick in public art.

rose2(Laura Hoffman)

Much of this recent increase in murals is manifesting itself in the form of beautification of forgotten walls. Street art and commissioned murals are finally making their way in to the artistic lexicon of Santa Rosa. Murals have long been loved by other urban centers as a unique way to create public spaces out of forgotten alleys and blighted neighborhoods.

BUD3horz(Bud Snow)

Recently there has been a change in the local perception that once seemed to equate a mural’s existence with creating a down-market environment rather than lifting one up. Fortunately the international notoriety of certain street artists and their elevation to high art have softened the local resistance to murals and large scale wall pieces, creating a nice addition to our civic landscape.

tbarr(Todd Barricklow)

About ten years ago residents in the Roseland community were getting fed up with the constant wanna-be gang tags on their fences. They reached out to local Artist Laura Hoffman who worked with a group of SR neighborhood kids and the City of Santa Rosa Graffiti Abatement Program. They used donated paints to create a series of murals on private property. Unwittingly, these folks who were just trying to erase an ugly underbelly in the community created a unique walking tour and helped define the neighborhood in a beautiful way.

erikburke(Eric Burke)

More recently the Sonoma County Museum reached out to a number of artists to commission a series of murals on what will soon become their contemporary annex. Julia Davis, Todd Barricklow, Jared Powell, Carlos de Villasante and Judy Kennedy were all tapped to create temporary murals to compliment the space and ongoing construction.

rose4(Laura Hoffman)

Last year Judy Kennedy and I worked with the local non-profit teen mentoring organization, ArtStart, to raise money for two giant murals to grace a derelict and abandoned building on the edge of town.

rose3(Laura Hoffman)

While these examples span the arc of technical skill and artistic taste, they all help to contribute to well loved spaces and add to our sense of community and belonging.