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Local News

Santa Barbara Mural Inspired By ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ Granted Long-Term Permit

Architectural Board of Review decides the artwork by Maurice Sendak can stay at its home at 26 E. Gutierrez St.

One of Santa Barbara's most unique murals quietly received long-term approval Monday to stay in place.

Under discussion was whether the large mural inspired by the Maurice Sendak book Where the Wild Things Are could stay at its home at 26 E. Gutierrez St. or whether it should be painted over.

The mural was created by artist David Flores, who studied in Santa Barbara and has gone on to produce murals and installations around the world.  

Santa Barbara's Architectural Board of Review unanimously approved the long-term permit for the artwork.

Krishna Buyalos, who spoke on Monday for building owner Tony Buyalos, said they had been given "a spontaneous opportunity" to have the mural done, but admitted that the artwork was unpermitted.  

Buyalos owns the building and the skateboard shop inside, the Church of Skatan.

The mural sits on the back side of the building overlooking the parking lot at REI, and unless someone is in the parking lot, or sitting in traffic on Highway 101, it's difficult to see the mural, Krishna Buyalos said.

The board was also sent a letter from store representatives at REI who support the mural. They said the artwork has deterred graffiti in the area and acts as a draw for people walking by.

"We are happy to see this wonderful piece of art other than just a plain old building," the letter said.

Santa Barbara County Arts Commission Executive Director Ginny Brush was also on hand to encourage the board to approve the permit, calling Flores' artwork "distinctive."

She also encouraged the board to approve signage in the area giving more information about Flores and his contributions to the Santa Barbara community.

The relatively quiet meeting around Flores' work stood in stark contrast to the earlier discussion around the city's "Gatorboy" mural, another unpermitted mural that was painted on the back side of a building downtown.

One big difference was that Gatorboy had been painted on the back of Cajun Kitchen at 901 Chapala St., which sits squarely in the heart of the city's historic El Pueblo Viejo District, characterized by strict design guidelines about paint, exteriors, architecture and landscaping. To view a map of the El Pueblo Viejo District Boundaries, click here. 

Because of the building's location, the mural was evaluated by the Historic Landmarks Commission and ultimately the City Council, who voted last month to have the mural removed.

The Wild Things mural sits under the purview of the Architectural Board of Review, which doesn't have any guidelines on public art, according to city planner Jaime Limon.

"We're going to follow up on giving temporary art some more flexibility," he said. "We'd like to go back to council and explain whether temporary art should be evaluated differently."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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