why not in laguna?

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“Garden of Delight” mural by David Guinn from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Our guest columnist proposes that we—literally—paint the town.

By Theodore P. Schraff III


Art and Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach and art. The words are almost interchangeable. We have the Festival of Arts, the Sawdust Art Festival, Art-A-Fair, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna College of Art & Design and countless galleries to peruse. But there’s something missing in Laguna: outdoor, endlessly changing, ever-enlightening and celebratory murals.

There are so many open, usable spaces to create, exhibit and propel art here. Laguna deserves more art in the form of murals. While there are a few murals in town—including the lovely “Whaling Wall” by Wyland on Pacific Coast Highway and Roy Gonzalez’s recent mural outside the Laguna Riviera Beach Resort at St. Ann’s Beach—there are still so many blank walls waiting to be adorned.

Search the Internet with the words “City of Murals” and results bring up Steubenville, Ohio, and Philadelphia, which boasts more than 3,600 murals throughout the city. Say what? How did these cities acquire that delightful moniker? And, more importantly, what can we do to steal the crown of being designated as the City of Murals? Blank canvases are scattered throughout this city, begging to be splattered with color and inspirational images that make up this world-renowned artist’s village called Laguna Beach.

To generate more public murals, I propose an initiative where businesses could donate their walls and become a local art purveyor. There also could be temporary installations by lining walls with paper, cloth or canvas. To get residents involved, the city could have an annual Paint the Town mural contest. Or, other local organizations, such as the Laguna Outreach for Community Arts, could host a youth mural open and invite kids to come create art with watercolors, chalk and finger paints—all nontoxic, of course.

In fact, other cities already do this. Santa Barbara’s graffiti- and mural-lined Funk Zone holds a Second Saturday Art Walk, a new monthly event initiated to highlight the neighborhood’s vibrant artistic community. Here, new murals are showcased (and encouraged) by the community. I could see something like this on First Thursdays Art Walk. This evening event could turn into a daylong event, inviting locals and visitors to partake in mural painting at a designated location.

Imagine driving through town while soaking in public art—blank, boring walls transformed with swirling images of Hollywood stars, past and present, who’ve lived here on the wall of Laguna South Coast Cinemas; an homage to the city’s surf culture on the untouched wall of Coast Liquor on South Coast Highway at Mountain Road; or depictions of Mother Earth, including Laguna Beach’s stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters teeming with sea life, and beautiful canyons below blue skies, on the sterile wall at Glenneyre and Mermaid streets. Those locations are just a beginning. So, why not, Laguna? Let’s paint the town.


Theodore P. Schraff III is a Laguna resident, part-time educator, part-time learner and all-around lover of music, fun and art.


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