Santa Monica’s world-renowned natural beauty – its wide beaches, swaying palms, and breathtaking sunsets are a big draw for visitors from all over the world. But did you know that Santa Monica has become a bastion of public art in the last few years with dozens of striking murals dotted throughout the city?

Much of the responsibility for this proliferation of street art lies with Beautify Earth, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit whose worldwide mission is to transform blighted walls and unattractive fixtures via the power of art. Beautify Earth recruits both local and international artists to paint public spaces, creating art that exists for the pleasure of all.

Thanks to Beautify Earth’s promotion of public artwork, including around 50 in Santa Monica, the organization was awarded the 2017 Cultural Tourism Champion Board for its work by the California Travel Association.

Evan Meyer, the Founder and Executive Director of Beautify Earth, says, “Art is the easiest way to create a sense of community. We strive to turn walls that don’t make you feel good into beauty.”

Beautify Earth refers to such street art as “the cure for sad walls.” Each of Santa Monica’s neighborhoods feature Instagram-worthy street art of their own. Below is just a sampling:

  1. Pico Boulevard

On this diverse thoroughfare, more than 25 murals have sprung up, making the neighborhood a mural mecca. Among the highlights are Chris Saunders’ “Eye of the Tiger” mural outside Goju Ryo Karate and Clinton Bopp’s full building mural of the Santa Monica bluffs on the wall of Advantage Real Estate.

  1. Santa Monica Pier Area/Ocean Avenue

One of the many attractions at the bustling Santa Monica Pier is a mural teeming with sea life by late muralist David Legaspi in 2007. The painting on a wall below the Santa Monica Pier Bridge welcomes visitors to the small aquarium run by Heal the Bay, an environmental nonprofit dedicated to making the coast waters safe, healthy and clean.

  1. Ocean Park Boulevard

Daniel Alonzo’s Whale of a Mural, a 630-foot long tourist attraction located at Ocean Park Boulevard and 4th Street, strikingly depicts whales, fish, and other aquatic creatures swimming in the Pacific.

  1. Main Street

Ruben Rojas’ “Anything Can Happen,” featuring a young girl making a wish as she blows a dandelion, is a whimsical and nostalgic mural located at 2309 Main Street. Another Rojas creation, the beloved “You Are Beautiful” mural (at 2522 Main Street), is a favorite selfie spot.

A mural honoring the late skateboarder Jay Adams also covers the back of the building that’s home to Dogtown Coffee, an eatery that pays homage to Santa Monica’s history as a bastion of skateboarding.

  1. Montana Avenue

Los Angeles Artist Jonas Never debuted a moving tribute mural to legendary Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold last month. Located outside of Margo’s entrance, the mural stands at ten feet tall and features Gold holding a copy of his signature “Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants” list.

Santa Monica’s upscale shopping district also offers street art in the form of several painted utility boxes, decorated with a local iconography including a Ferris wheel, a surfboard and more.

  1. Wilshire Boulevard

“Beach Day,” by the artist known as Bumblebee Loves You, is a huge mural on the side of an office building at 631 Wilshire showing a young boy, beach pail in one hand and binoculars in the other, ready for a day of fun and sun in the sand.

Jonas Never, one of LA’s most prolific artists, paid tribute to beloved chef Anthony Bourdain after his passing in June. Never painted the stunning 13-foot-tal mural on the side of Gramercy bar, which is visible from both Wilshire and 25th street.

  1. Downtown Santa Monica/Third Street Promenade

On the side of Bibibop Asian Grill on Third Street Promenade are the words “Take Care Always” written in white cursive against a wooden backdrop. The mural represents Bibibop’s motto of achieving a happy, healthy lifestyle in every aspect of your life.

  1. Mid-City

The Mid-City section has been enhanced by “Guardian,” a mural created by Francisco Letelier on the south wall of the American Red Cross Santa Monica Bay chapter on 11th Street and Broadway. In addition, DK’s Donuts & Bakery unlevied a mural that locals dubbed Donut Angel. Donut lovers flock to 1614 Santa Monica Boulevard to pose beneath its large wings and floating pink donut halo.

The best thing about public art, of course, is that it’s … public, and can be enjoyed by everyone, free of charge. So put on your walking shoes or hop on your bike and take a tour of some of the beautiful, thought-provoking and inspiring murals Santa Monica has to offer.

Submitted by Misti Kerns

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