KICKING BACK: Jerry Rubin celebrates his 70th birthday Dec. 11 at Rusty's Surf Ranch on the Santa Monica Pier. (Photo courtesy Martin Rubin)

WHAT’S THE POINT? — Every community honors their esteemed individuals. Sometimes it is in the form of giant pyramids ala Giza, sometimes it is a statue in the park surrounded by a rose garden ala Arcadia Bandini de Baker created by Masahito Sanae. Art is in some ways a measure of a community’s ability to create a sense of history and stability. It is a way in which we can honor and respect the past while enhancing the present day living experience.
Santa Monica is a bastion of great art, not so great art, questionable art, and downright hideous art. However, how a piece falls into each of those categories is really a matter of personal taste.
Our city has a rich history of creating and preserving art and sculpture, like the Paul Conrad Chain Reaction campaign that Jerry Peace Activist Rubin led last year. This year Jerry is trying to save the Muir Woods Mural at Lincoln and Ocean Park. There’s good arguments on both sides of the issue. On the one hand, the piece has some historical value and should be conserved based on its subject matter and artist, Jane Golden. On the other hand, the current students should be allowed to make their current environment reflect their dreams and personal reflections.
Art is a fluid thing. It changes with the times to reflect the mores of the time. What was considered beautiful in a Rubens painting would today likely be airbrushed into a mere stick figure. The perfect imagery of the 50’s postwar era today looks hokey and is replaced with a gritty naturalism that exudes a casualness that is the new norm in America.
Murals perhaps are the most accessible of the arts. They are put up on sides of buildings to be seen and enjoyed by all for free. They reflect the sensibilities of the artist, but also the building owner – ostensibly.
The latest new mural in town was dedicated this weekend by the artist DVATE. He created a mural on the backside of Dogtown Coffee that looks into the parking area. It is a portrait of the late Jay Adams. This special tribute mural comes from an original photograph by Glen E. Friedman of Jay Adams from 1977 at the Dog Bowl in Santa Monica.
Branded Arts ( is the curator of the new Jay Adams mural, and the backstory on it is a testament to people taking initiative and building something for the community. Warren Brand, curator at Branded Arts represents the artist DVATE who was coming to town from Australia. The two of them were discussing projects and Jay Adams in particular as the subject of a possible mural. Brand then approached DogTown Coffee who agreed to let them put up a mural on the building’s back wall. After the city issued a “Certificate of Appropriateness” Brand and DVATE went shopping for paint and a new mural was born.
As curator of this mural, Brand self-financed the project. He has done many projects like this on the Westside with the artists he represents. He arranged for a photographer / videographer to create a “making of” video and to document the project. His job is like a movie producer/publicist/traffic controller who runs interference with the many people who are asking questions and commenting about the work in progress.
Branded Arts is looking for new artists and new locations to create additional art. Based on the conversation I had Friday, when the mural was being painted, with one neighbor who liked the work so much that they reached out to Brand to see about a mural for their building, I don’t think he’ll have to wait long for new commissions.
We live in a vibrant and ever changing city thanks to the contributions of people like Warren Brand, DVATE and the men at DogTown Coffee. Their efforts are a continuing way to honor our heroes and the people we respect, and to remember those who make our city great.

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