News & Advocacy

Recording Now Available: The City Hall Murals

January 28, 2022

With issues of racial inequity and social justice at the forefront of our national consciousness, Santa Monica City Hall’s historic murals have come under criticism for not reflecting our contemporary values. Two proposals have advanced in City Council – one to cover the murals from public view, the other to recontextualize them with new interpretive material and additional artwork reflecting new perspectives on our difficult history. The Conservancy opposes covering the historic murals in our landmark City Hall, but we enthusiastically support the recontextualization goals. The opportunity to deepen the thematic content of the murals without censoring them would be a beneficial outcome of the current debate.

In that spirit, the Conservancy presented The City Hall Murals, a free webinar in our Santa Monica Mosaic series, on Sunday, January 23. Watch the recording of our event and explore the cultural themes of the History and Recreation murals, both in their original context as WPA artworks and as viewed from contemporary perspectives.

Featured speakers:

Art historian Will South is the foremost authority on mural artist Stanton Macdonald-Wright. His Ph.D. dissertation culminated in the exhibition and publication Color, Myth & Music: Stanton Macdonald Wright and Synchronism. South will speak to Macdonald-Wright’s place in the art world as well as the WPA program that enabled City Hall to be built. He curated an exhibition about Macdonald-Wright, which traveled to several locations, including LACMA in 2001.

Kim Morales Johnson, Vice President of the Gabrieleño/Tongva Springs Foundation, holds a number of distinguished positions representing the Gabrieleño/Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians. She and her family are active in Native American politics and culture and have been featured in documentaries and several books. She is a consultant and currently completing her Ph.D. in Native American studies at UC Davis. She also enjoys traditional basket weaving, preparing Native American foods, and keeping her culture alive.

Sharon Reyes is a descendant of Francisca Marquez and Maria Roque Valenzuela of the 1839 Mexican land grant, Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. Her ancestor’s name, Ysidro Reyes, is on the History mural at City Hall. Reyes researches and preserves archival material on her family history. With other land grant descendants, she was instrumental in preserving the Marquez Family Cemetery in Santa Monica Canyon. She is passionate about recognizing and protecting our cultural history.

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