The collaboration between The Pico Improvement Organization and Beautify Earth is a shining example of the positive impact street art can have on a community.
(Mural by Marcel Blanco)
PICO takes pride in their dedication to better their community and it shows in the drastic transformation of their neighborhood. One walk along Pico Blvd shows the commitment this organization has to its community, not only is the street art they helped bring to life a vibrant and beautiful guide along Pico Blvd from 3rd street all the way inland to 34th, it has also helped small business thrive in a safer environment and turned the street into quite the “scene” with restaurants and quaint bars bustling between beautifully painted walls.
The first thing you see on the PICO website at PicoPassport.com is whimsical street art created by Beautify Earth’s Ruben Rojas, the piece titled Create adorns a wall on Pico Blvd. facing the Virginia Ave. Park. In the words of the Merchant Engagement Director of PICO, Dana Moorehead; “We made mural art the first thing you see on the site to communicate to visitors that Pico Blvd is a place to come and visit and enjoy and eat and drink in a community where art is intrinsic to the experience”.
The connection between the PICO and Beautify Earth is deep rooted and fruitful. BE has contributed over 130 murals in Santa Monica and 40 of those pieces are along Pico Blvd. and many can be found on PICO’s Mural Map. These murals add to the increase in foot traffic and help create a happier, safer, flourishing community for everyone.
Both organizations plan on continuing to spread the joy and the color with more street art, which is one of the reasons PICO joined BE’s Local Organizations Package. PICO has full trust in Beautify’s Evan Meyer, as Dana said; “the Chair and Board members are willing to get behind him if he thinks it is a valuable idea with benefits for the merchants and community”.
Communities could all use organizations like PICO that are run by people who really care and who are willing to step up and make a difference. We had the chance to sit down with Dana to ask her a few questions and it was obvious from the start that she is genuinely invested in her community:
Q. Why did you sign up for the Local Organizations Package with Beautify Earth?
DANA: We happily signed up for the package because PICO has had a long and fruitful relationship with Evan Meyer and Beautify Earth, and the Chair and Board members are willing to get behind him if he thinks it is a valuable idea with benefits for the merchants and community. We fully plan to have more murals added to Pico Blvd, so it makes sense to be aligned with Beautify Earth and have a roster of artists 'in the family.'
Q. How did you hear about Beautify Earth?
D: When I started in my role as Merchant Engagement Director a year ago, I learned that PICO has had a long relationship with Beautify Earth over the past years, collaborating on many, many murals along Pico Blvd. and giving the neighborhood a real artsy vibe in the process.
Q. What is your favorite thing about partnering with BE?
D. Evan and the team have a real passionate belief in that what they do makes communities stronger and safer and more beautiful, and I appreciate their ambition and energy. They have been doing this a long time for such a youthful bunch, and they know what they're doing. They have relationships with so many wonderful artists.
Q. What do you love about art?
D. I personally have a deep passion for contemporary art and really know my way around the Los Angeles art world. Art is creative and inspiring and thoughtful and enlarges our world. Some of my favorite artists got their start painting murals in New York City in and on the subways - Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiata
Q. What made you decide to get involved in your community?
D. To say I adore the merchants on Pico Blvd is an understatement. I really admire the confidence it takes to own your own small business, to deal with customers, deliver an incredible experience or product and earn a living. That is courageous! PICO undertakes projects that support merchants and community. We bring you street banners, landscaped medians, Shakespeare in the Park, holiday retail promotions and a website at PicoPassport.com that has merchant and community news and a directory of our merchants.
Q. Why is community important to you and what role do you think art plays in bringing communities together?
D. I am a great believer in the power of art to bring people together, and I envision not only more incredible murals on Pico Blvd., but crosswalk art and electrical boxes painted and, my dream, to have a standing piece of art that reflects the Pico community, a placemaker piece, if you will. Something that is unique a=yy04nd emblematic of the Pico community.
Q. What is your biggest goal for Picopassport.com?
D. Continuing to add murals and other art on the boulevard is integral to who our merchants and community are, and who we want to be. We made mural art the first thing you see on the site to communicate to visitors that Pico Blvd is a place to come and visit and enjoy and eat and drink in a community where art is intrinsic to the experience. Continuing to add murals and other art on the boulevard is integral to who our merchants and community are, and who we want to be.
Dana’s vision for PICO runs parallel to Evan Meyer’s, in his words; “Pico Blvd has a special place in my heart. It’s both a thoroughfare and community in Santa Monica that has embraced beautification as part of its culture, and PICO has led the vision for the street with Beautify since we started this mission. They have been one of our closest partners over the years. There’s a real kinship between PICO and Beautify that I truly value”.
The world needs more joy, vibrancy, color and art, especially during these times, not only to keep us connected but to help small businesses get back on their feet as the world opens up. Reach out and connect with us to find out how Beautify can help your community. Let’s move forward together.