Murals in Glendale could raise the art quotient

At least two murals could be coming to city properties over the next two years — one as early as this fall — after the Arts & Culture Commission said last week it wants to spend part of its $1.4 million budget on mural projects.

"It's all about transforming something," Commissioner Arman Keyvanian said at a City Hall meeting last Thursday. "It's about making anything into a canvas."

There is still much to solidify when it comes to getting the mural projects off the ground — including approval from the City Council, which could come as early as July — but, of the many art projects the commission would like to do over the next five years, murals have one of the fastest timelines.

The murals are just one step along the city's pathway toward boosting its arts reputation. Tired of being known as a "boring" city, as indicated in a branding study conducted more than two years ago, Glendale officials want the city's dedication to the arts to rival that of other communities in Los Angeles County, such as Pasadena and Santa Monica.

Plans for the two murals include one project involving community members working in conjunction with a muralist or street artist and another that could be done just by an established artist.

During the meeting, Annette Vartanian, a program supervisor for the city's Library, Arts & Culture Department, showed a photo of an expansive mural at the West Hollywood Library featuring an elephant holding a flower as an example of what could be done in Glendale.

The 2011 mural was the brainchild of Shepard Fairey, the street artist who created the famous "Hope" poster featuring President Obama.

The themes of Glendale's proposed murals have yet to be fleshed out, but commissioners said they want the murals to either play off the city's new tagline, "Your Life. Animated," demonstrate cultural diversity, or shed light on the challenges associated with bullying in schools.

After council approval, the commission will request project proposals from street artists or muralists. The murals could be on parking garages, utility boxes or city-owned streetscapes, such as retaining walls.

Of the $1.4 million urban art fund, $100,000 could be spent on murals. It is funded by optional fees paid by developers in lieu of providing art on their own properties.


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