Passing by the creatively decorated utility boxes all over Eureka and the vibrantly painted walls of downtown and Old Town, you may have noticed that lately this city is all about that art! Since adopting the Strategic Arts Plan in 2017, Eureka has taken on many public art projects to help beautify the town and, hopefully, drive tourism.
The retaining wall along Waterfront Drive across from Halvorsen Park is one of the many structures that has received a makeover since Eureka went on a street art spree. Artists began painting the wall last year as a part of the Eureka Arts and Culture Festival. Now the city of Eureka and local non-profit Ink People are planning to collaborate to continue this project. The Eureka City Council will discuss adopting an agreement for the “Eureka Live Art Wall” project at a meeting next week.
Unlike some other mural projects in Eureka, the live art wall is meant to hold temporary pieces by multiple artists. Local artist and project manager Phyllis Barba told the Outpost that, as the project grows, the idea is to have artists repaint over the other pieces on a semi-regular basis. Barba said she was inspired by the Venice Art Walls of Los Angeles.
Artist sign up to paint the beachside walls of Venice every weekend, Barba said. Which would probably not be possible here, because of the weather. “It gets really boggy down there,” Barba said.
Barba thinks it might be more realistic to have the project be seasonal, having artists sign up more often in the summertime. But this is one of the details Barba and the city will still need to work out.
One of the things city staff and the project organizers will be discussing during their meeting is who will be in charge of which aspects of the project. According to the staff report, the Ink People will be in charge of coordinating artists and project details, maintaining the art and restricting or removing art that is “deemed inappropriate,” which includes artwork depicting hate speech, gratuitous violence, pornography, profanity, etc.
The city will primarily be in charge of maintaining the landscape surrounding the wall, to ensure the artwork is visible, and assisting with marketing and promotion of the project.
“We’re taking more of a support role,” Eureka Community Services Deputy Director Donna Wood told the Outpost. Wood said that the city also secured permission for the project from the North Coast Railroad Authority, which controls the area along the railroad tracks.
Another important aspect of the project is ensuring that artists are compensated for their time. Barba said it is all too common for artists to volunteer their time and incur the costs for their work. Barba plans to address this not only through cash fundraising, but also by asking businesses to donate other valuable goods or services for the artists. This could include things like medical care, groceries or clothing.
Another unique aspect of this project, Barba said, is it is not intended to cater to only professional artists. Anyone can paint on the wall, as long as their work adheres to the rules of appropriate content.
“We’re trying to get as many people to be a part of this as possible,” Barba told the Outpost. “It’s a very inclusive project. Anyone can come and paint. We don’t discriminate against the artist’s ability.”
For anyone interested in participating in the Eureka Live Art Wall project, you can email Barba at firstname.lastname@example.org. The project should also soon be included on the website for the Ink People’s DreamMaker Program, Barba said.
The Eureka City Council will discuss this project at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. in Eureka City Hall — 531 K Street.
The council will also discuss modifications to the parts of the Local Coastal Program amendment that allow for on-site consumption of cannabis. You can view the full agenda here.