There are countless reasons why people love to live in the California city of Santa Cruz. Residents and visitors alike, simply adore the great climate, astounding beaches, world-famous surf, amazing nightlife and of course, the innovative Public Art Program.
Few cities in the US can boast as progressive and diverse a project as the one set up by Santa Cruz's arts Commission back in the late 1990s. From expansive murals, to impressive sculptures and ever changing exhibitions in the heart of downtown, the breadth of works on public display is truly inspiring.
Among the more unique elements of Santa Cruz's commitment to the arts is the SculpTOUR program, where artists loan pieces to the city for a prescribed period of time. The works remain the property of the artist during the temporary public exhibition, and all sculptures are for sale directly from their creators. This not only allows local artists to display their work to a wide and appreciative audience, but the rotation of artwork also ensures that there is always something new to discover as one explores the streets of downtown Santa Cruz.
Another of the city's more quirky and well-loved projects is Graphic Traffic. This simple, yet highly effective idea centers on Santa Cruz's many traffic signal cabinets, and helps bring a new perspective to some of these widely-ignored urban elements. Numerous artists have contributed a series of spectacular images to these otherwise drab boxes, brightening up street corners and helping to stop traffic in more ways than one!
Stroll through Santa Cruz and you will be confronted by eye-catching murals, adorning buildings and breathing fresh life into some very unexpected places. From community based mosaics to photographic tile murals to vast painted landscapes, the variety of work on show never fails to delight passers-by.
Not only does the Public Art Program bring a fresh and exciting aesthetic to the daily lives of Santa Cruz residents, but these inspiring works can also help improve and regenerate areas that were previously in need of some TLC. And with architectural projects throughout the city combining elements of creative design into buildings and other significant structures, the people of Santa Cruz are able to reject the notion of a monotonous cookie-cutter landscape, renewing pride and a sense of ownership in their community.
Santa Cruz has always been a vibrant city and thanks to the ongoing Public Art Program, which attracts positive development and genuine optimism, it will continue to be so for generations of visitors, newcomers and life-long residents.