The Santa Clarita Arts Commission has enlisted the help of artists from near and far in creating public art projects throughout the city, for locations including the new Canyon Country Community Center.
Among the new art pieces set to be featured at the center will be Los Angeles-based artist Katy Krantz’s ceramic tile wall mural in the courtyard at the center. The mural will serve as a backdrop for weddings and special events.
As Krantz gets to work on the 5-by-50-foot mural wall, she’s asking for the community’s help in creating the tiles that are set to encompass it, through three socially distanced community engagement events held in the Santa Clarita Valley’s open spaces.
Learning about the SCV’s rich natural history
When putting out the call for entries for this project, the commission told artists to let the idea that the mural will be at a community center really drive their theme, according to Katherine Nestved, the city’s arts coordinator.
Krantz took that to heart, incorporating a community engagement aspect into her concept, so that not only did she get to work collaboratively with the community, but the community could also see their creation and remember the special aspects of the SCV each time they visit the center.
Krantz’s idea really resonated with the commission and city officials, who appreciated that it was going to be made by community members, Nestved said.
“That’s really what made her stand out from all the other artists is that she understood this need, when we didn’t even identify that need within our own project,” Nestved added.
And while some artists simply research the city online rather than traveling to the area, Krantz went above and beyond, going on hikes in the SCV with her family in tow and talking to and learning from community members along the way.
Krantz even went as far as to teach the committee a little bit about the history of Santa Clarita in her interview, according to Nestved.
“A lot of artists have their own concept of their arts, and they try to make it fit our community, and she did the opposite — she went into the community and then made the concept behind her piece,” Nestved added. “So, she really hit home with spending the time in our community, and that made her really shine.”
For Krantz, who said she really enjoyed delving into the area’s history, it was an opportunity to incorporate those natural elements into her project, with as many aspects of the local history as she can.
Getting the community involved
Krantz has scheduled three community engagement events, where she will be stationed at designated locations across town.
At each event, community members will be given blocks of wet clay, and as they take a self-guided hike, they will be instructed to press the clay into textures they encounter along the way, Krantz explained.
Krantz will then collect the clay impressions at the end of the hike and take them to her studio to fire and glaze, eventually incorporating them into the mural’s overall design.
In addition to the three community engagement events, Krantz is working with the center’s recreation staff, who will be seeing the mural most often, as well as a youth camp at the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, the area’s first inhabitants, to create special pieces for the mural.
Krantz is also soliciting the Santa Clarita community for fossils and/or other natural items that have been found locally, as she’d like to take clay impressions of each item and incorporate them into the mural for posterity. The item would be returned to the community member undamaged.
There are three free community engagement events scheduled 7-10 a.m. to avoid high temperatures, with clay provided on a first come, first served basis. The first is scheduled Saturday, May 1, at Central Park, next to the Western Tiger Swallowtail & Yerba Santa Clarita public art sculpture. The second is May 22 at the Elsmere Canyon trailhead. The third is June 5 at Towsley Canyon in the parking lot adjacent to the trailhead.