Have you spotted any of the new ocean and environmental-themed public art that is now on display in Santa Cruz? Nineteen (and counting) ocean advocacy murals entitled Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans is the first of its kind in Santa Cruz and is made possible by the PangeaSeed Foundation – an organization who works to create meaningful environmental change for oceans through science, education, and ARTivism (SEA). The Sea Walls Santa Cruz Mural Map shows where the new murals are located and who the artist(s) are who created them – many of which are Santa Cruz County locals. Several other artists joined in on the project including folks from Oakland, San Francisco, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Portland, Reno, Hilo, Hawaii, Greensboro, South Carolina, and Vienna, Austria.
The project was directed by local muralist and activist Taylor Reinhold over the course of three years; he secured mural locations, recruited artists, and oversaw the production of the project from start to finish. In alignment with the sustainable mission of the project, environmentally-friendly non-toxic paint that absorbs carbon was used for the murals.
Take a look below for some of the amazing, beautiful, inspiring, and important murals created with the Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans project. Enjoy, and be sure to visit the murals in-person on your next tour around town.
“The Urchin Merchant”
Lauren YS (Los Angeles, CA)
2391 Mission St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Dominos / Wall Facing Mission West Parking Lot
Mural Theme: Endangered kelp forests
Artist Statement: “This mural addresses the declining health of the kelp forests off the coast of Northern California through anthropomorphization of the invasive purple sea urchin, the leopard shark, and the sunflower starfish, ecological signposts of the imbalanced ecosystem threatened by CO2 pollution and rising ocean temperatures. Drawing inspiration from the 80’s rich punk, skater, and surfer subcultures of Santa Cruz, this super-saturated trio of characters suggest the underlying struggle to counteract the adverse effects of global warming on the local kelp forests and welcomes the viewer to take part by consuming more invasive sea urchins, recycling, reducing their CO2 footprints and becoming further educated on the health of the local seascape.” – Lauren YS
“Chain of Events”
Griffin One (Oakland, CA)
2335 Mission St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Mission Liquors / Visible from You Do It Car Wash
Mural Theme: Micro-plastics in the marine food chain
Artist Statement: “Plastic pollution is overtaking and clogging up our ocean’s waters – and killing our ocean creatures all the way up the food chain. I designed and painted this piece to help create awareness about this issue. Many creatures in our oceans are eating and ingesting MicroPlastics, and sadly absorbing their chemicals, because these tiny, hazardous pieces of plastic are often mistaken for food, and are not digestible. This cycle eventually and inevitably circles back onto the land (from which it came), and also deeply affects creatures above sea level that rely on the Ocean as a source of food. These creatures include the Native Sea Birds, such as the Brown Pelican… as well as us humans. All of us creatures are neck-deep in this together!” – Griffin One
“Protect Our Oceans”
Jimbo Phillips (Santa Cruz, CA)
142 River St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Lenz Arts / Wall Facing Parking Lot
Mural Theme: Plastic pollution
Artist Statement: “The theme of my mural was plastic pollution, which is a huge concern to me, so I tried to convey the message in a fun colorful way, so people will enjoy the image and then absorb the message. The giant Squid is ridding the sea of plastic, and the surfer and seal are stoked and are supporting him because the ocean is important to everyone!” – Jimbo Phillips
Made Fresh Crew – Scotty Greathouse, Tyler Filkins, Evan Cusack, Erika Rosendale, Kyle Sanders, Joe Fenton, Casey Landaker, Joe Fitz, Maia Negre (Santa Cruz, CA)
204 Church St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Birichino Winery
Mural Theme: Ocean stewardship, climate change, pollution, overfishing
Artist Statement: “This group mural by the Made Fresh Crew Ground Ops Team came together at the end of the week after being inspired and driven by the amazing artists of Sea Walls Santa Cruz, PangeaSeed Foundation, and the community that came together to support this massive creative production. Collaboration is vital, and we must come together with our fellow creatures on this planet to foster sustainability if we are to survive.
The darker, far side of the mural shows remnants of human waste, including stylized ropes, oil spills, and gassy gunk that has bleached the coral on one of the underwater reefs. As the mural continues, a story of hope is ignited as more life, animals, and movement swirl around an illuminated circle of marine beasts in a healthy ocean. We wish to inspire others to bring many hands together as we did, to continue telling this story of hope so that it can be the reality. Reading from left to right, instead of projecting the doom from the irresponsible habits we currently uphold as a society, we chose to change the narrative to manifest a brighter future.” – Made Fresh Crew
“Sea Lions / Patterns of Behavior”
Jet Martinez (Oakland, CA)
601 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Front St Parking Garage / Botanic & Luxe Corner
Mural Theme: Plastic pollution impact on local marine mammals
Artist Statement: “The theme of my mural is plastic pollution and its effect on sea creatures… in this case the iconic California sea lion. The idea with this piece was to create a design that was simple and elegant but that also told a story. In some of my work, I use patterns to illustrate the idea that everything in nature is connected. The large overall background blue water pattern is mimicked within the sea lions and kelp forms. The viewer should see a simple and playful composition of sea lions doing their graceful thing in the water. But as one steps closer or looks longer, other shapes start to appear: specifically garbage. Masks, water bottles, plastic bags, etc. I wanted to allude to the idea that as there is more and more trash all around, we are becoming desensitized to it, and it somewhat fades into the background. However, trash is so prevalent in our oceans, that it seems an inaccurate depiction to paint natural scenes and not include it. I want to challenge the viewer to see the garbage we are putting into the world, and to recognize that it is creating a tremendous disharmony in the natural order of things.” – Jet Martinez
“The Last Salmon”
JEKS ONE (Greensboro, NC)
601 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Frazier Lewis Lane / Soquel / Front St Parking Garage
Mural Theme: Overfishing & rising sea levels
Artist Statement: “The figure represents the capitalist top 1% dining on the very last of the coho salmon due to decades of overfishing and choosing profits for now instead of sustainability for the future, neck-deep in rising seas due to the climate change that he chooses to deny and ignore. This is sadly the way we are headed without real change.” – JEKS ONE
“Help Da Kelp”
Kai Kalukukui (Hilo, HI)
601 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Frazier Lewis Lane / Soquel / Front St Parking Garage
Mural Theme: Endangered kelp forests and Invasive species
Artist Statement: “Help Da Kelp” is a representation of invasive purple sea urchins, eating a kelp forest to devastation. Seen on the bottom are abalone and a sea star, who are affected by the habitat loss caused by the urchins, as well as a few sea otters who are in the background probing for lunch. The kelp on the top can be viewed as the last stragglers, transforming into bubbles towards the right, as a nod to the amount of oxygen that will not be produced from these dying algae. The ramifications of global kelp deforestation are heavy, as the ocean is responsible for every other breath you take.” – Kai Kaulukukui
“Seven Sea Solstice”
Ricky Watts (Oakland, CA)
601 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Frazier Lewis Lane / Soquel / Front St Parking Garage
Mural Theme: Rising sea levels and global warming
Artist Statement: “It’s not a secret. Evidence of global warming is all around us. Living near the ocean, I see first hand the erosion of our bluffs, trash on our shores and frequent coastal flooding during high tide. It pains me to witness the careless neglect many have for our most precious resources. I created this work to help bring awareness and change to our way of life, because our current path is unsustainable. Our ocean levels are rising and sooner than later, our shores will begin to look very different. Let’s give future generations an even better, healthier planet so they can enjoy the same experiences we do.” – Ricky Watts
“Weight of the World”
Abi Mustapha (Santa Cruz, CA)
435 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Sesame Korean Grill / Wall facing Cathcart St
Mural Theme: Coastal development and climate change
Artist Statement: “My goal for this mural was to bring back a sense of connection between what we do on land and how it affects the ocean which in turn sustains our whole world. By making the whale the center of the piece with an oil refinery on its back I hope to convey the serious weight and stress that our land usage has on other beings we share this planet with. Even ones we don’t always feel the direct connection with. I wanted the reds of sunset and blues of the ocean to bring in our connection with land and sea in a vibrant eye-catching way that would make people passing look twice at what’s actually going on in the image. I want people to see beauty and feel a sense of responsibility.” – Abi Mustapha
David Rice (Portland, OR)
METRO Bus parking Lot – Crazy Crab at 429 Front St.
Mural Theme: Shark Conservation
Artist Statement: “For my mural I teamed up with Save Our Seas Foundation to bring awareness about the plight of sharks around the world. On average sharks are responsible for less than 10 human deaths a year, whereas humans kill over 100 million sharks every year.
Sharks have been given an unwarranted stigma in our society as monsters that are out to get us, when in fact they are just like any other animal on our planet. My goal for this mural was to take the shark out of a dark, ominous marine setting and place it in surroundings that are more familiar to us such as the iconic California poppy flower. Removing the boundaries that separate us, I hope to show that we are all part of a larger ecosystem. Our success as a species depends on the well being of our oceans and healthy oceans need healthy shark populations.” – David Rice
“The Warrior Archetype”
Nychos (Vienna, Austria)
1010 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA – METRO Bus parking Lot – Pacific Apartments at 1010 Pacific Ave.
Mural Theme: Ocean Stewardship
Nychos’ mural is a memento for women to embrace their change-making power as well as drive home how crucial it is to better protect and preserve the world’s marine environments. The customarily lighthearted, cheerful mermaid Ariel is filled with anger at the state of the world’s oceans. With issues ranging from coastal development, overfishing, pollution, and climate change, it is time that humanity wakes up to the reality of these challenges and stops pretending that everything will be okay. As a representation of Mother Ocean, she calls on us to become better stewards of the sea and fight for our planet’s life-support system.
“A Beneficial Snack”
Alexandra Underwood, Joey Rose (Emeryville, CA)
37 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – Santa Cruz Wharf near Gildas
Mural Theme: Endangered kelp forest
Artist Statement: “Unfortunately, the effects of climate change can be seen here in the kelp forests off the coasts of Northern California. After disease took out a large population of the kelp forest’s natural defenders, the sunflower sea star, thousands of purple urchins have taken over. Fortunately, the small but mighty sea otters are fighting on the front lines of this issue! Protecting and providing healthy habits for all ocean critters has an immense effect throughout the ocean ecosystem.” – Alexandra Underwood & Joey Rose
“As Above – So Below” Oceans in Crisis
Shane Jessup (Los Angeles, CA)
619 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062 – York Framing / Wall Facing Soquel Ave.
Mural Theme: Human impact on the ocean environment (pollution, sea level rise, overfishing, and biodiversity loss)
Artist Statement: “Ocean pollution, the rise of sea levels, overfishing, loss of species – all due to the actions and inactions of humans. The longer humans (represented by Pluto and his bident) continue to ignore these actions, the Ocean (represented by Poseidon and his trident) will continue to push back in an attempt at healing itself. A constant battle until we change our actions and begin to heal and restore instead of destroy and ignore.” – Shane Jessup
“From the Mountains to the Sea, Keep Our Waters Plastic Free”
Madeleine Tonzi (Oakland, CA)
619 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062 – York Framing / Parking Lot Wall
Mural theme: Plastic pollution and coastal wetlands
Artist Statement: “From the Mountains to the Sea, Keep Our Waters Plastic Free,” takes into consideration the impacts of plastic pollution, and highlights the interconnectedness of our waterways and how climate change and human actions are impacting those systems.
In this piece, the viewer is led from the tops of the mountains, through the streams and rivers, into the wetlands, and out to the beaches and sea. It is a story of the earth’s symbiotic ecosystems, as well as the path in which plastic debris makes its way into the oceans, ultimately permeating every aspect of marine life.
I chose to use bright pops of fluorescent red to symbolize the effects of climate change on the ocean and included mountains to draw the connection between landlocked places, coastal living, and aquatic life.
Through my work, I want to convey a sense of beauty and calm, and appreciation for the environment, while also highlighting the challenges the ocean and its inhabitants face as a result of direct human action. It is my hope this will inspire people to consider the interconnectedness of all life on this planet and its fragility, and in turn, take action to remedy the damage we have done.” – Madeleine Tonzi
“Let’s Solve the Dissolve”
Caia Koopman (Santa Cruz, CA)
730 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062 – Santa Cruz Movement / Parking Lot Wall
Mural Theme: Ocean Acidification
Artist Statement: “Our oceans are facing so many hardships these days from human-caused climate change, plastic pollution, to massive overfishing, and much more, so it’s always an interesting challenge for me to pick a subject to focus on.
My mural is titled “Let’s Solve the Dissolve” and is about ocean acidification and the fact that our oceans have become acidic enough to dissolve shells and kill coral. Our oceans have been absorbing nearly a third of all carbon emissions and 90% of excess atmospheric heat, in a sense saving us from the effects of catastrophic climate change so far, but there’s a limit to what they can do to help. Our excess CO2 + H2O = Carbonic Acid, so unless we want an ocean of acid we need to “Solve the Dissolve” together.” – Caia Koopman
“Guardian of the Deep”
Zoe Boston (Oakland, CA)
1827 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062 – Community Printers / Back of parking lot visible from Soquel Ave.
Mural Theme: Endangered marine species and biodiversity loss
Artist Statement: “Over the last three years, approximately 400 gray whales have died due to various circumstances that include but are not limited to lack of fish, pollution and toxins in the water, and sound waves that disturb the whales.
In my piece, a guardian of the ocean breathes life and protection to the gray whales through bubbles, As the ocean also gives life to her, symbolizing our relationship and connection with water. Humans are about 75% water and can’t live without it so, as we take care of our own bodies we should also be taking care of our bodies of water and have respect and care for the creatures that live in it.” – Zoe Boston
“Protect What You Love”
Hannah Eddy (Reno, NV)
1827 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062 – Community Printers / Alleyway Wall
Mural Theme: Ocean stewardship
Artist Statement: “Protect What You Love is such a powerful statement that could truly lead to lasting change if we all embraced it. This mural celebrates the importance of finding a connection with nature in order to appreciate and preserve it.
When we fall in love with activities (like surfing) that are so directly related to healthy oceans, breathable air, clean water, stable weather patterns, and a healthy snowpack we can’t help but think about what we can do to protect the environment. Through my art, I hope to encourage more people to get outside and experience the natural world in order to nurture our love for it and to help preserve it for future generations to enjoy.” – Hannah Eddy
“Everything in Balance”
Max Ehrman (San Francisco, CA)
1501 41st Ave N, Capitola, CA 95010 – Orange Theory
Mural Theme: Marine stewardship
Artist Statement: “When you first observe the mural, you’ll notice a strong water line that divides the mural into three parts, night, day, and a fantasy water scene with sea life. This form is anchored and balanced by the moon and cosmos on one side, with the sun on the opposite side. Like all things in nature, there is a balance. The sun and moon represent a balance between night and day, alpha/omega/ yin/yang male/female. These energies control our known environment, and if one is out of balance, the earth will change and suffer. The tidal water line rushes to the top, thus bifurcating the image into two distinct images. This rising waterline represents the rising tidal changes around our coastal cities around the world. I was born and raised in South Florida, and my family comes from Cuba; I’ve watched our coasts erode away due to the rising tides due to climate change and warming. I used to go diving with my parents in Key West every summer, and I have vivid memories of the vibrant corals and aquatic life.” – Max Ehrman
“Ghost in the Forest” Plastic Pollution and Kelp Deforestation by Commercial fishing
3621 Soquel Dr, Soquel, CA 95073 – Airtight Vinyl Siding & Window side wall facing Treehouse back parking lot
Mural Theme: Plastic pollution and overfishing
Artist Statement: “Ghosts in the Forest” is in reference to the massive amount of Ghost Gear abandoned in the ocean and kelp deforestation by commercial fishing. Fishing nets make up about 10% of the overall plastic pollution in the ocean and about 46 percent of the floating plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Bottom Trawling devastates ecosystems by scraping the ocean floor with giant nets. Not only do these kill dolphins, sea turtles, protected fish, and many other species but it also has a similar effect on the environment as clear-cutting a forest on land. Estimates suggest that seaweeds take nearly 200 million tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere every year.” – Gats
More About the Project
September 2021, PangeaSeed Foundation’s global Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans program created 19 ocean conservation-themed murals in Santa Cruz. Completed in a week with over 25 artists from a mix of Santa Cruz, California, and across the country.
The large-scale artworks speak to locally relevant, pressing marine environmental issues such as plastic pollution, ocean acidification, warming seas, local biodiversity loss, environmental justice, and more.
The mission is to empower individuals and communities to create meaningful environmental change for the oceans by raising public awareness of critical environmental issues through SCIENCE, EDUCATION, and ARTIVISM (S.E.A.)
The project was produced by the Made Fresh Crew and is supported by the City of Santa Cruz Department of Economic Development, Lost Coast Plant Therapy, and the Save Our Seas Foundation, amongst others.
PangeaSeed’s local partner, Made Fresh Crew, is a collective of Santa Cruz artists who collaborate on art projects locally & internationally. From their 500ft long ocean sustainability Mission Street mural to numerous large-scale community projects, Made Fresh Crew draws inspiration from street art, education, and activism.
Made Fresh Crew (Local Artists and Operations Crew)
City of Santa Cruz Department of Economic Development
Lost Coast Plant Therapy
Save Our Seas Foundation
A Tool Shed
South Swell Ventures (Bud Colligan)
Tannery Arts Center
Aqua Breeze Inn
Monterey Bay Eco-Tours