Santa Cruz is known worldwide for its beautiful coastline and incredible access right into the Monterey Bay’s National Marine Sanctuary—where diverse species of whales migrate annually, commercial fishermen harvest our seafood, and extraordinary creatures dwell in the dark trenches of the West Coast’s most expansive deep-sea canyon.
And while people are aware of these marvels in the backs of their minds, there is a distance between our daily lives and the fact that our ocean is in grave peril.
Each year in the United States more than eight million metric tons of plastic refuse make their way into the ocean, where it is accumulating exponentially, overwhelming and killing the biodiversity that makes its home in the sea.
It is absolutely crucial that this human-made problem—and the creatures that it threatens—exist not in the backs of our minds, but rather front and center. Which is why the Fresh Walls Project of Santa Cruz County aims to channel the beauty of the Monterey Bay and its fauna into an expansive, detailed, explorative mural that inspires, informs, and illuminates a part of our world that needs the public’s attention more than ever.
So what’s the plan: The Fresh Walls Project, headed by muralists Taylor Reinhold and Scotty Greathouse, is a collective of Santa Cruz artists who care deeply about community, activism, and the environment. In partnership with the Tim Brauch Foundation and Clean Oceans
International, the Fresh Walls team has identified the more than 500-foot long sound wall along Bay View Elementary School and Mission Street, for what will be the county’s largest mural. “We think of this project not only as a way to help people feel more connected to what’s going on in the Monterey Bay’s waters and all the amazing biodiversity below its surface, but also a way to spark inspiration in our youth so they want to protect all of it,” says Reinhold. “We need
the world to rethink a lot of industries, like plastics, and the changes need to begin now.”
With high-visibility to the general public, the “Healthy Marine Environment” mural will showcase illustrations of native aquatic species, their respective tidal habitats, and information defining the threats they face due to plastic pollution. The enormous art project has the power to beautify Santa Cruz, help create a deeper connection for the community with the Monterey Bay, and push a worldwide environmental crisis into the spotlight.
“The ‘Healthy Marine Environment’ mural celebrates Santa Cruz’s intimate connection with our precious ocean,” says Clean Oceans International founder Capt. Jim “Homer” Holm. “With a new mural, this wall along Mission Street could help to generate new dialogue and awareness around the health of our oceans, and Taylor’s crew has demonstrated their ability to grab the public’s attention through beautiful artwork.”
In conjunction with the mural project, Clean Oceans International has brought educational partners from Cabrillo College, CSU Monterey Bay and UC Santa Cruz to help implement ocean
conservation programs at Bay View Elementary.
Through partnerships including The City of Santa Cruz, Arts Council Santa Cruz County, Caltrans, The Newman Foundation and Santa Cruz City Schools, the project is in position to begin as soon as May 1, and while some kickoff funding has been earmarked to move the artistic production forward, the required budget is still lacking for full liftoff. The Fresh Walls Project is initiating a fundraising campaign for $35,000. The funding will help to cover the expenses for painting materials, permitting, and a stipend for the muralist team. For businesses interested in supporting the project, a high-visibility section of the wall on Mission Street will be allocated as a “Donors List,” where your contribution and commitment to the Monterey Bay will be branded in affiliation with the mural.
“This mural will start the storytelling around our bay in a language (art) that our entire community can understand and share,” says James Cox, of the Newman Foundation, which has contributed $5,000 to the project. “Whenever I see Taylor Reinhold’s work, it brings splashes of incredible color to my day…This mural is a gift for all of us.”
In an era when plastic contamination in our oceans is growing exponentially, help bring this oceanic mural project to life, raise awareness of how individuals can do their part, and connect Santa Cruz in a truly deep and meaningful way with the ocean we all love so much.
To learn more about ways to support the project, make a contribution, and spread the word, please visit the gofundme page. To help tell the world’s most pressing stories, we must spark imagination and wonder first. Support the Fresh Walls Project in sparking Santa Cruz’s for this incredible cause.