Discovering a stunning work of public art while touring a new location is one of the most enjoyable experiences. Regional mosaics, sculptures, and murals highlight the creative and cultural diversity of the region and pique your curiosity. Because of the vibrant art scene, unique works of public art may be found on and around every corner in Santa Cruz County. Here are five fantastic locations for public art that you won’t want to miss, whether you’re up for a day of the mural and public art spotting or want a taste of the local art scene.
“Community Quiltage” by Thomas Campbell – Downtown Santa Cruz
Abbott Square, a bustling area that incorporates art, restaurants, culture, and community, is situated in Downtown Santa Cruz. In the center of the city’s art district, Abbott Square Market is a collection of eateries serving a range of cuisines, including street tacos, burgers, sushi, and Neapolitan-style pizza. It also features a sizable public outdoor patio space. As you eat outside, glance up to see Thomas Campbell’s famed Community Quiltage, a work of art created in Bonny Doon. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) plaza and the mural are covered in vibrant patchwork artwork. Beacon, a striking hanging sculpture made of brilliant red maritime buoys reflected in mirrored panels to give the appearance of a full circle, stands in contrast to it. Are you interested in more public artwork? Explore side streets and Pacific Avenue for more of the city’s iconic murals and sculptures.
“Sharky-Go-Round” by Kirk Mcneill – Tannery Arts Center
While there are several public artworks at the Tannery Art Center, you should take advantage of Sharky-Go-Round by Kirk McNeil. When you give Sharky a little prod, the Tannery’s whimsical art will make you feel like a kid again. Sharky-Go-Round will make you feel like you’re under the waters of the surrounding Monterey Bay, watching these sharks as they “swim” above you, set against a wonderfully blue sky.
“I-Spy Creatures of the San Lorenzo River” by Sarah Bianco with Human Shaped Animal – San Lorenzo River Walk
A mural with a natural theme, I spy with my small eye! So keep an eye out for the interactive mural I-Spy Creatures of the San Lorenzo River, created by Sarah Bianco alongside Human Shaped Animal and poet Jasmine Schlafke, on the San Lorenzo River Walk by the Tannery. A diversity of plants and animals may be seen along the trail and in and around the San Lorenzo River, sandwiched between poetry and geometric patterns. Can you spot a rainbow trout, a monarch butterfly, and a newt?
“Watsonville Brillante” Organized by Kathleen Crocetti – Downtown Watsonville
Watsonville Brillante, a mosaic mural project spearheaded by conceptual artist and organizer Kathleen Crocetti, is truly a community endeavor. A mosaic patchwork represents Watsonville’s diverse cultural strands via the work of several artists. The neighborhood has gotten together to create unique pieces using brilliant ceramic tiles, which turn a regular parking garage into an exquisite visual patchwork.
The Triumph, a Picasso-inspired artwork in Watsonville Plaza dedicated to the residents of Watsonville, is just around the corner. Its beautiful blue tones, framed in stunning crimson, have just been restored by artist Jaime Sanchez. This vast, Guernica-inspired beauty is one to be noticed.
“To Honor Surfing” by Jeff Oberdorfer – West Cliff Drive
You’re sure to spot a Santa Cruz landmark when strolling along picturesque West Cliff Drive: the well-known Surfer Statue. Jeff Oberdorfer created the sculpture To Honor Surfing in 1992, and the surfer has been keeping watch over the waves for more than 30 years. And here’s something amusing: Depending on the occasion or season, you might even see the “surfing bro” dressed festively! He has rocked everything: a Santa hat, a pumpkin head, an American flag, and a fall wreath.
Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, an operable lighthouse that houses the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, may be found by continuing along West Cliff Drive. First, learn about the long history of surfing in Santa Cruz and its enduring roots. Then, spend time admiring Steamer Lane’s enormous waves, a popular location to observe seasoned surfers paddling and riding the swell.
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