Growing up in San Francisco’s Mission District, I’ve always had a deep love of public street art. Murals in particular. It takes a snapshot of a cultural moment, reimagines museum art in new ways, and can bring together a community. Everyone can enjoy it (or even debate it) whether or not you have the money to go to a museum.
You just have to keep your eyes open.
Since moving to Santa Barbara years ago, the one thing I’ve missed about living in the Bay Area is the richness of street art. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t agree with graffiti tagging and defacing property (though I will admit to enjoying Banksy’s style of unexpected wit). On the whole, I believe that public murals should be the vision of a community (and not a lone tagger screaming for attention or turf).
But, what I realized this year is that I haven’t been keeping my eyes open in Santa Barbara. There is a richness of street art here under the glossy white walls and red tile roofs that have made Santa Barbara’s downtown a glimmering Spanish Riviera-style tourist oasis. Tucked in alleyways and side streets, and vibrantly on display in the Funk Zone neighborhood, there’s street art all around me. I just have to keep my eyes open.
I decided that I’d like to do a series of blog posts journaling the street art and murals in my own community. Today’s post features artist W. Dane’s reimagining of “Rosie the Riveter” in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone (near Helena Avenue). I won’t speak for the artist, since I don’t know his intention. I’ll only speak to how it inspired me. “Rosie the Riveter” is one of those WWII icons that has been reimagined in so many ways over the decades. This mural stitches together elements of the Black Lives Matter movement and feminist ideals. Black and white and everyone in between need to work side-by-side to keep our country strong and thriving. Let’s face it, hardworking women have always stood strong to keep their families and communities together. In these times of distrust and division, I feel it’s more important than ever for art to appeal to these values. Sometimes we just need that reminder reflected back at us through art–we can do it.
So, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, check it out! Stay tuned for more street art to come!