Mural: There’s a block party planned this weekend to celebrate the new mural on Pico. Courtesy photo

There’s a party on Pico this weekend and the whole neighborhood is invited.

At the center of the event is a brand new, impossible to miss, two-story tall mural celebrating the rich history of the neighborhood and what the Pico Improvement Organization (PIO) hopes will be a bright future for the business district.

The block party will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 15 in front of the new mural at Pico Blvd and Urban Street. It was painted by local muralist Marcel Blanco and commemorates several local legacy businesses while adding to the growing collection of street art along Pico Boulevard.

“It just feels like amidst a lot of struggle (during the pandemic), Pico really keeps trying to progress and we’re doing important things where we’re thriving, we’re beautifying and we’re continuing to up our game in terms of our attractiveness,” said Dana Moorehead, PIO Merchant Engagement Director.

The event is expected to be quite a community gathering with City Councilmembers, Mayor Sue Himmelrich, City Manager David White and a range of Pico merchants all set to be in attendance.

The block party will also mark the triumphant return of Unurban Cafe, a 26-year-old Pico business owned by Pam Stollings that shuttered its doors at the start of the pandemic.

“With that new mural going up, it just gave her inspiration to open up and start her business up again,” said Moorehead, adding that attendees can expect to enjoy Unurban’s homemade chili and a range of other treats at the event.

Other highlights include a performance by the award winning local dance group Ballet Folklorico and music from DJ Henry Helix. After almost two tough pandemic years for local stores, Moorehead said she hopes the event will kickstart a successful year of business for merchants old and new.

“It’s such a diverse street and we have some of the oldest businesses in Santa Monica: we have Santa Monica College, which came about in 1929, Rae’s Diner in 1958 and McCabe’s Guitar Shop in 1958,” said Moorehead.

The mural contains nods to all three of these longstanding businesses by including the guitar from the McCabe’s logo, the mid-century Rae’s Diner sign and the SMC logo.

“This vibrant, placemaker sign celebrates our diverse merchants and community in the Pico District, from Centinela all the way to the beach,” said Sharon Town Lee, PIO Chair. “We are delighted to offer neighbors and visitors of all ages the opportunity to enjoy our fantastic Pico hospitality.”

The project is one of several initiatives the PIO is running to beautify, unite and enrich the business strip along Pico Boulevard.

While the area is a longstanding site for businesses it is much more spread out than other commercial districts such as Main Street or Montana Avenue. Therefore, the PIO is looking at ways to unify the street and encourage residents to explore different parts of the business district.

The over 20 vibrant murals painted by Beautify Earth muralists are one example of this. Another, is PIO’s new “door to adore” initiative where the organization is encouraging businesses to paint their doors in the bright official colors of Pico: purple, orange, blue and pink. Lastly, the team is working on beautifying the freeway off ramp on Pico by planting a new garden around it.

More information on the block party and these projects can be found at https://picopassport.com/

Clara@smdp.com