ART OR POLITICS?
ENVIRONMENT OR MONEY?
COMMUNITY HISTORY OR INSIDER SPECIAL INTERESTS?
These are some of the issues of the battle over taking down the Muir Woods Mural painted in 1978 by Jane Golden on two sides of the school building on Lincoln, stretching around to Ocean Park Blvd.
Sounds pretty heavy. Like a lot of backroom skullduggery. Can you prove any of this, Charles?
Some. But not enough to put anyone in prison. Yet.
But you do know what counts, for real people? For elections? Appearances. You can get away with a lot but if the bad appearance builds up too far, you can be convicted without a formal trial. The court of public opinion. If you’ve got nothing to hide, do it the right way. The inclusive way. The transparent way.
The people who operate that other way get so good at it they rarely get caught. (And they know if they do, nothing will happen, right Pam?) Few elected officials operate as stewards, rather than overlords.
I’m not saying any of this is what’s going on with every or even any member of the School Board, who have the final say on the mural’s fate. It’s probably just a series of oversights. They’re probably just going about it the way they think is best, without it occurring to them that there are people outside their small circle who deserve a say. Even though I’ve been putting that in print over and over for years, and especially recently.
WE’VE GIVEN THEM EVERY CHANCE
For six years. Six. Years. Right up until now, the last minute, hoping for a show of good faith. In my previous column I listed a number of things that the Board had not addressed, such as the criteria for determining the mural’s fate, the schedule for community input, publicizing it sufficiently, justification for scraping it recently (their “lead paint” reason does not fly), showing us the complete set of photographs they say they took before scraping it. I wrote last week that failure to finally do so, at this late date, was a clear sign of bad faith.
Maybe they didn’t see my column. Maybe no one mentioned it to any of them. (But it did have the large, bold headline, ”URGENT REQUESTS TO SMMUSD”.)
Right. Maybe they forgot about me speaking before a Board meeting a couple months ago, along with Jerry and Marissa Rubin, as a group, the group to Save the Muir Woods Mural (SMWM), formed six years ago. Maybe they’ve forgotten our meetings with the school Superintendent. The months-long mediation process we went through at the request of SMMUSD.
The only peep we have heard since my direct request last week was one email from Board President Jon Kean to Jerry, telling him an updated press release would be sent out this week and asking him when a good time that Friday might be for Jerry and Marissa to have their meeting with Jane Golden.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
Kean wrote to Rubin, offering that meager bone, because Jerry has been fighting to preserve that mural all these six years. Kean mentioned Marrissa. He did not mention me. While Jerry and I are friends and work well together (Chain Reaction), we have different approaches. His keep it positive, win-win, versus my trust and verify, and if it looks like a duck… Some are not too keen on that.
Jerry’s not going to call anyone out for the non-inclusive process we all, all in this city who have said we want to keep that iconic environmental mural, have been subjected to so far. He’s going to hope for the best from good people, right up until the last minute. I can be the same way up to a point, but that point has long gone.
This is not about me, or Jerry or Marissa. What counts is that we have made ourselves a focal point for those who want to save that mural and represent hundreds if not thousands of residents and dozens of organizations. If you leave the SMWM out of the process, which is what has happened, you leave out all those people who have contacted us and are counting on us to represent their deep affection for that 41-year-old landmark.
A lot of people here feel it’s way past time to stop throwing our irreplaceable Santa Monica heritage and traditions in the trash. We just lost an important mosaic mural through City staff incompetence. Don’t forget, our City Council made a couple of attempts in the ‘70s to get rid of our Pier.
This is our city, our history, our heritage. Not the passing elected officials. Not the special interests. Not the big money.
WRITE, SHOW UP
You can reach all seven members of the School Board at — email@example.com. Please write them and ask all your friends and neighbors who care to do so, right away.
Here’s all we know: “Thurs, Jan.. 30, discussion of ‘public art, Mural Arts, and art in Santa Monica,’ 7:30 p.m at Santa Monica College’s Orientation Hall, Student Services Center, 1900 Pico Boulevard.
Fri, Jan. 31, small group meetings with Golden and her team at the Obama Center, 721 Ocean Park Boulevard.
Sat, Feb. 1, same location, the future of the Muir Woods Mural.”