Proposed Huntington Beach mural draws mixed response


A Huntington Beach Art Alliance plan to put a mural on the Frontier Communications building on Main Street has drawn mixed reactions from community members, including some who say viewers of the artwork could increase traffic in the area.

Art Alliance co-founder Kim Kramer introduced the 6,000-square-foot public art project in March and shared a rendering of the proposed mural on Facebook this month.

The plan is tentatively scheduled to go before the city Design Review Board on June 14. The board’s action would be final unless appealed to the Planning Commission.

The Art Alliance — which put on the city’s first Dumpsters on Parade last year and organized utility box art in the downtown area — collaborated with artist Melissa Murphy to create what they say would be the city’s largest piece of public art.

The planned mural is representative of the city, Kramer said, showing a surfer riding a wave with Ruby’s Diner on the pier in the background. On the side of the building along Acacia Avenue, the mural would depict a lifeguard tower and surfboards, with the ocean as the backdrop.

The Facebook post garnered mostly positive comments, though some suggested other mural ideas and one voiced concern about a lack of input from nearby residents.

In an interview Wednesday, Vanessa Martinez of Huntington Beach questioned whether enough residents were informed of the project or given an opportunity to provide feedback.

Martinez, who lives across Main Street from the Frontier building, said she’s also concerned about how the mural would affect traffic.

Discussions to create the mural, which would be the Art Alliance’s first, began in November with city officials and Frontier representatives, according to Kramer.

“We went to the city because we wanted to make sure we were following all the rules,” he said.

Frontier could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Kramer said he met with residents along Pecan Avenue to try to ease concerns but did not meet with everyone who lives along Main Street. He said he did meet with Martinez, her husband and two of their neighbors on Main Street about their worries about nighttime lighting and traffic.

If nighttime lighting is an issue, it will be removed from the plan, Kramer said. As for traffic, he said he offered to meet with city officials to try to reach a conclusion about it.

Kramer said the Art Alliance plans to hold a community workshop to collect public input, but a date has not been set.

“You’re never going to get people to agree; art is subjective,” Kramer said. “Some people like Van Gogh, some like Picasso. We posted it to see what they thought, and we wanted to reach out to the community.”

Twitter: @vegapriscella