Arts & Cultural Vitality / 2013
Art Revitalization Movement
The Northeast San Fernando Valley has been going through a transformative process of Arts and Culture in the past couple of years, there have been a dozen new murals added to Pacoima’s’ walls. This has been possible due to the hard work and dedication of community muralists from the Northeast San Fernando Valley. A Summer Arts Festival at Project Youth Green would expose youth and organizations to the importance of arts and culture for community revitalization. Art centered youth programs in the area do not have the capacity to serve the large Latino youth demographic. Project Youth Green, a four acre community garden has been expanding since it first opened and has been home to a practice ground for local artists and youth groups in the community. Artists of all backgrounds and experience levels have participated in painting a canvased gate, adding a wide range of styles, techniques and visuals to the landscape. Currently, this wall is falling apart, the material it is painted on is not meant for painting, and after more than 20 layers of murals in the past 4 years this piece of tarp is deteriorating. One idea is to re-canvas this wall with a more sustainable material, as well as add more canvas to existing walls. Then with an art competition, invite youth to participate in covering the empty space with new art. Each youth group would be mentored by a practicing artist from the Northeast San Fernando Valley. In order to assure that the next generation has the skills required to continue and expand on this art revitalization, we must expose and train young people to master the brush. Another aspect to art and design would be to challenge local youth art groups to design four sculptures. These sculptures would be strategically placed considering the land’s terrain in order to create a water harvesting system that would help the garden become self-sustaining. With the added blank canvas at the community garden youth are given the opportunity to learn and practice mural skills by providing a space where they can work on large-scale projects. A group of artists who are part of this movement will hold workshops, sharing their skills with youth at centers, schools, and organizations. The skills of design, collaboration, and sustainability can be taught simultaneously through art and gardening. A contest would then be held, opening it up to the youth in the community, where a select number will be chosen to compete at a summer arts festival. Each artist will have a mentor to guide them through the contest. There will be criteria to follow that will challenge their creative thinking and design skills. A winner will be chosen by a panel of judges and the winner will be given the opportunity to add their own mural to Pacoima’s Mural Mile. All other contestants will be given prizes and the opportunity to help the winner design and execute their mural.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
Mural Mile has become a necessary project for artists, community members, and art enthusiasts. There have been a dozen new murals added to Van Nuys Blvd. in Pacoima, all in the past 2 years. This has been a grassroots effort, propelled forward by a core group of public artists who collaborate with local non-profits, but who can also lead a self-funded project with the community. The Pacoima Art Movement has restored pride in the community.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
We plan to actively partner with like minded nonprofits, businesses and individuals in Los Angeles, focusing in our communities in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Some organizations that would play a more active role are: El Nido Family Centers, Project Youth Green, El Hormiguero, Tia Chuchas, Pacoima Family Source Center, GRYD, Friends of the Family, Youth Speak Collective, Pacoima Chamber of Commerce. Schools: San Fernando High School, Maclay Middle School and Discovery Prep Charter School. Businesses: Myke’s Cafe, Stylesville Barbershop, Flores Upholstery.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
Evaluating the project would require identifying the number of free arts workshops available in the Northeast valley in comparison to other parts of Los Angeles. Also, keeping track of the number of youth involved in arts programs at the beginning the year, in comparison to the end of the year. Furthermore, keeping track of how many organizations would be interested in starting a program at their facilities by the end of the year. The number of artist jobs available versus the number of jobs it will create.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
The Northeast San Fernando Valley Art Revitalization Movement will benefit Los Angeles by establishing artistic, cultural and sustainable art projects in a historically neglected part of Los Angeles. The North East San Fernando Valley has the second largest concentration of Latinos in Los Angeles, rivaling East Los Angeles. The community is economically, culturally and racially diverse. Furthermore, the majority of the residents are working class, first-generation Mexican-American or recent immigrants.
Creating a viable and long-lasting Art Revitalization movement in the area will expand and maintain Los Angeles as an international art and cultural center. Currently, the Northeast San Fernando Valley in general, and Pacoima in particular are experiencing an “Art Renaissance”, spearheaded by local muralists and community members. In the past two years Van Nuys Blvd, between Arleta Ave and Glenoaks Blvd has been dubbed Mural Mile, in reference to the dozens of world-class murals that have been designed.
The most notable murals have been designed and painted collaboratively with the local community by Kristy Sandoval and Levi Ponce. Pacoima Art Revolution, which is a reinterpretation of the Mona Lisa and Freedom Fighter which pays homage to Assata Shakur are two examples of mural projects that have inspired and propelled other art projects in the area. Freedom Fighter, designed by Kristy Sandoval and painted entirely by local women artists and aspiring artists defiantly repositions a “Womyns place in the struggle,” for equality. The mural challenges patriarchal gender roles and stands in stark contrast to the billboards and other media in the area that sexualize the female form.
Los Angeles once was considered the mural capital of the world. The Northeast San Fernando Valley has organically taken over the mantle with great enthusiasm. However, all of these projects have been grassroots funded or paid out of pocket by the artists. With art programs cut in public schools, young people rely on community-based art projects to express themselves. These murals project have not only beautified the city, but also have transformed how community members see themselves. In order to create a sustainable art movement in the community and impact greater Los Angeles, more art programs, murals, and public art projects need to be supported in the area. The burgeoning art movement in the North East San Fernando Valley is slowly gaining momentum, but with the right type of support it can have a great impact on future generations of Angelenos.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
In 2050 success will be a continuing art movement, not just in the Northeast Valley, but expanded into the entire Los Angeles area. Art is proven to have positive impacts on communities, and in an area where crime rate is high, graduation rate is low, and the access to arts & culture programs are lacking, a successful outcome can include economic growth by attracting sustainable business into the area, increased graduation rates, and creating pride of ownership in the community.