A mural by artist Trent Taylor, 21, is not yet finished, but is already causing a stir among nearby gallery owners. Trent, who is affiliated with Eggman and Walrus, a new experimental gallery housed upstairs on the same street, did not receive permission from the Historic Design Review Board—but the mural will soon be under that department's scrutiny.
The offending artwork shows a person meditating beneath a psychedelic crest. It's painted on double utility doors that lead to trashcans.
Artist Ivan Barnett, who owns Patina Gallery across the street, plans to notify the Historic Design Review Board about the mural.
"I'm not anti-art or anti-graffiti. This is about ambiance; Santa Fe is a historic city," Barnett tells SFR. "You can't just start painting murals without the appropriate channels."
Barnett concedes that he doesn't believe the mural has a chance of being approved.
Karl Peterson, whose gallery, Cody-Peterson Gallery, is nearest to the mural, didn't call the Historic Design Review Board, but says, "I think it's ugly as sin."
Taylor doesn't understand the fuss: "Who wants to look at brown doors?" he says.
"I had no idea what that [Historic Design Review Board] even is. I do now," Taylor says. "I just wanted to paint a mural."
Barnett calls the mural "a promotional tool for a gallery opening" happening at Eggman and Walrus this Friday, Dec. 10. "The point is they just decided to do something unilaterally. We pay thousands of dollars to be here," Barnett says of his Palace Avenue locale. He suggests the mural be painted on canvas. That way, when people complain, it could be taken down and not destroyed.
Eggman and Walrus owner Evan Glassman believes the fuss stems from uptight criteria regarding art in Santa Fe.
"They're angry because we're trying to do art in public. The prevailing attitude [among some gallery owners] is provincial and stupid," Glassman says.
According to Historic Design Review Board member Sharon Woods, when the board receives a complaint, it sends out staff to decide whether or not the offending action is in compliance with city ordinance. If not, the board holds a public hearing. As to what the city's course of action is against a non-complying mural, Woods is unsure.
SFR is awaiting a response from Land Use Director Matthew O'Reilly regarding the city's recourse.