Client: Paint the City Peaceful
Location: Santa Monica, CA, United States
Completion date: 2020
Jacob Wilkes Studio, LLC
Paint the City Peaceful
Beautification is a vehicle for healing the community. Following the death of George Floyd, rioters, protesters, and the like flooded streets in Downtown Santa Monica. Some proceeded peacefully, while others smashed windows and left cars aflame. It was in the aftermath of these riots, on the boarded-up windows, that 19-year-old Jacob Wilkes saw a path towards healing in the form of latex paint. Commissioned by Paint the City Peaceful, “Panoramic Shadow” is an abstract depiction of a tree’s shadow- the kind of hard shadow that’s created when the 5PM sun shines through a tree’s branches and onto a nearby wall. Like fractal geometry, these tree projections contain recurring, self-similar phenomena that interact constantly with our buildings and physical spaces. Wilkes believes this occurrence is part of our collective visual experience; a notable departure from the perpetual bombardment of advertising and social media. Perhaps tuning-in to the visually object will allow us the space to take back our attention.
My primary goal for this design was to build on existing design elements while creating something that brought a strong aspect of newness. I feel that the final design pays homage to the accent in the restaurant name as wall as to the angular facade beneath the boards. In terms of newness, the organic, hand drawn forms are in stark contrast to the angular nature of the building. The choice of black-and-white, too, was aimed at contrasting the green hue of the apartment windows above the restaurant.
As the lead artist, I directed 30+ volunteers throughout the course of a single day to complete this work. The design was envisioned the night before painting (the organizers did not give me notice until then) and consisted of a sketch with general constraints. On paint day, I drew the forms onto the wood going right while volunteers painted behind me on my left. Because many of the volunteers were children or did not have experience painting, the design needed to harness the full energy of the volunteers while also remaining polished. When looking at the work, only lines made with my own hand are visible. This is because volunteers painted up to the chalk lines, allowing me to make the final contact where the black meets the white. This technique ensured that the final work achieved the correct line quality.
This work was made in memory of George Floyd and in solidarity with all who took to the streets to fight for racial justice. I felt that by transforming the physical space we share, it may help promote the healing of our shared emotional space, too.