The Postcards of Santa Barbara mural project on lower State Street is coming down a full 10 months ahead of schedule per an abrupt order by property owner 35 State Street Hotel Partners.
The Los Angeles-based development firm, which is in the process of constructing the La Entrada hotel project at the site, chose to remove the Youth Interactive-created murals to cut costs on the walkway adjoining a neighboring construction project. According to the muralists, the company has found a way for pedestrians to walk on the east side of the street and so no longer wants to pay rent on the westside walkway.
The artists were notified earlier this week and given three days to relocate the artworks, which were installed in September for a yearlong stay per a memorandum of understanding signed between Youth Interactive, the City of Santa Barbara, and 35 State Street Hotel Partners.
“Three days is very short notice to get ready and find somewhere else,” said Youth Interactive founder and president Nathalie Gensac. When Gensac and others asked for more time, 35 State Street Hotel Partners refused. “They said, ‘Absolutely not, and if they are not down by Friday evening, then we are taking them down for you,”’ Gensac recalled. Attempts to reach the company were not successful.
Youth Interactive is currently seeking a new home for the murals with help from the Santa Barbara Arts Commission and the city. The airport is currently putting a proposal together to buy two of the murals for permanent display. Santa Barbara Beautiful will select one mural and auction it at a gala to raise funds for Youth Interactive, with half of the proceeds going to the artist and half going to Youth Interactive.
Arts Commission Executive Director Ginny Brush called the removal “disappointing.” “Nobody wants to delay all of the construction, but it’s frustrating that this is a model project and it’s not having a model ending,” she said.
This is not the first time Funk Zone muralists have come into conflict with property managers at the site. Last year, Artists Making a Street Scene (AMASS), were forced by police to remove their work from an unoccupied building on the corner of Mason and Helena Streets after managers objected to further artwork on the boarded windows.