Mural project aims to artistically depict city

An illustration of what a mural could look like if placed on the parking structure in downtown. (photo courtesy of the Hermosa Beach Murals Project group)

If half a dozen Hermosans succeed, people will start seeing vibrant murals slowly appear within the city.

A group, led by former councilman Chuck Sheldon, met Jan. 25 at an invitation-only meeting to discuss the Hermosa Beach Murals Project that is designed to educate and entertain onlookers by capturing some of the city’s 100-year history and unique culture.

Don DeMaderios, John Horger, Dick McCurdy, and former councilmen J.R. Reviczky and George Schmeltzer joined Sheldon, to start the journey of finding artists, funding, site locations and themes that will help create the proposed 15 or so paintings planned to cover walls on several public and private buildings in town.

Sheldon got the idea after McCurdy, DeMaderios and he visited a couple of communities that have an abundance of wall paintings.

“I thought of our little city and said, ‘This is something we have to do, as a community project,’” Sheldon said.

They mentioned cities such as Santa Paula, which is filled with murals, and Chemainus on Vancouver Island, B.C., considered the “birthplace of murals,” according to DeMaderios. Twentynine Palms, Los Angeles and Lompoc have a large amount as well, he added.

These are just a few of the many cities the Hermosa Beach Murals Project group will be studying to incorporate at least one a year starting this fall, Sheldon said.

“A mural will go up this year. By fall we’ll have selected a site and theme,” said Sheldon, adding there are hundreds of mural artists in California to choose from.

He said the group is steadily working on organizing several committees that will focus on site selection, fund-raising, choosing artists, picking themes and concepts, and working on public relations.

With the cost of a mural varying from $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the size, asking anyone for donations is the key to seeing brick and stucco take on a colorful story.

“We want as many people in the community to participate. We’re encouraging small donations,” said McCurdy. “It’s a very exciting project. Hopefully people will enjoy it.”

DeMaderios said it’s a project for everyone, so he’d “rather have 500 people give $1 instead of one person give $500, adding that they won’t be seeking large donations from corporations either.

“My goal is to get as many people to donate,” DeMaderios said. “I think it develops a sense of pride. It’s an opportunity for history to be documented across its walls.”

Hermosa Beach already has one large mural facing The Strand on pier plaza on Cantina Real that depicts the popular images throughout its first century. But Sheldon wants to build off that and make the additional murals more detailed on specific events and different aspects of the beach life here.

Sheldon said locations for the murals would be seen west of Valley Drive to The Strand down Pier Avenue and between 10th and 15th streets along Hermosa Avenue. He also said special contracts will have to be signed by property owners or the city that would require the murals to remain on a building’s exterior for at least a decade, even if sold.

Unlike the mural at pier plaza, which can be removed in pieces, these murals will be painted directly on the buildings, around windows and on top of other exterior fixtures. Sheldon said that gives them a more permanent feel.

The nonprofit group met at the Hermosa Beach Museum and included the Historical Society, whose president, Rick Koenig, was pleased because it shows they are serious about including everything from images of early settlers to surfing to volleyball to concerts and other activities that make the city a tourist destination.

That’s another reason Sheldon wanted to bring in murals. He said it not only educates residents and visitors about Hermosa Beach, but it should also bring in tourism dollars from people who drive to see them, then shop, dine and stay in town.

The Hermosa Beach Mural Project group is yet to develop a Web site or information where people can donate, but will soon have that information available to the public, DeMaderios said.

Sheldon said with help from the community, this project will be something everyone can be proud of as it will help share with others the beauty of Hermosa Beach.

“We’ll have one of the great depictions of a city in magnificent murals, which people can take great pride in,” Sheldon said. “It will be in the life and history of Hermosa for years to come.”

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