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Renown Public Artist to Help Decide Fate of Her "Muir Woods" Mural

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By Jorge Casuso

December 19, 2019 -- The artist who created the "Muir Woods" mural four decades ago will return to Santa Monica to help decide the fate of the iconic artwork, School District officials announced Wednesday.

Jane Golden will help lead a process to determine whether to replace or refurbish the mural on the former Olympic High School site, recently renamed the Michelle and Barack Obama Center for Inquiry and Exploration.
Jane Golden

“We are confident that her passion and expertise for mural art along with her personal connection to this space will ensure that our final design choice will take all factors and interests into consideration," School Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati said in a statement.

"The new mural will be a source of community pride and enjoyment for decades to come.”

The District's invitation comes two months after the the School Board halted plans to erase the mural ("Muir Woods" Mural Gets Reprieve from School Board," October 18, 2019).

Staff had initially recommended painting over the dilapidated mural at a prominent corner of Lincoln and Ocean Park boulevards, noting that the led paint has peeled, leaving "an unsightly set of walls."

Activists quickly launched a campaign to restore or faithfully recreate the artwork, which was painted in 1978 when the school was named after the famous California conservationist, John Muir ("Santa Monica Activists Relaunch Campaign to Save 'Muir Woods' Mural," October 2, 2019).

District officials said Wednesday that Golden will take "an active part" in the process to discuss "the next mural to be painted" on the large walls.

"The local community has been divided on whether to repaint the existing mural or create a new mural on this highly visible canvas, " officials said.

"Muir Woods" mural by Jane Golden
"Muir Woods" mural by Jane Golden (Courtesy City of Santa Monica)

Golden, who is the founder of Mural Arts Philadelphia, will help the District identify the "clear next steps that will be both collaborative and transparent."

The Santa Monica Arts Commission is involved and other collaborators will be named soon, District officials said.

While in town, Golden will take part in a three-day process that begins January 30 with a discussion of "public art, Mural Arts, and art in Santa Monica."

The discussion will take place at 7:30 p.m at Santa Monica College's Orientation Hall, Student Services Center, 1900 Pico Boulevard.

On January 31, small group meetings with Golden and her team will be held at the Obama Center, 721 Ocean Park Boulevard.

The final discussion, on February 1 at the same location, will focus of the future of the "Muir Woods" mural.

"The sign-up procedure will be announced shortly and every effort will be made to accommodate all interested parties," District officials said.

For more information about Golden and Mural Arts Philadelphia, visit

For more information about the upcoming process, contact school board member Jon Kean at

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