Mural Welcomes All to ‘The Cruz’

“The Cruz,” Kirby Scudder. Photo courtesy of the artist.“The Cruz,” Kirby Scudder. Photo courtesy of the artist.

New students trickling into town for the first time are getting a crash course on Santa Cruzan identity, thanks to a 30-foot-long caricature map of Santa Cruz now plastered on the corner of Bay and Mission streets.

The mural is the work of Kirby Scudder,Tannery.html artist and co-founder of First Friday, who happened to have an obscenely large version of his recently released poster “The Cruz.” Wanting to share it with the public, he drove all over looking for the perfect spot before settling on the blank wall of the Rip Curl building.

“That particular location is really interesting… it’s like a convergence of all the locals from the Westside, all of the students, mass transportation—everyone’s converging right at that corner,” says Scudder.

Designed after the famous illustration by Saul Steinberg that appeared on the cover of The New Yorker in March of 1976, “The Cruz” is a humorous “one-point-perspective” that embraces the way Santa Cruz residents view themselves and the rest of the world. Scudder calls the piece a “community illustration,” since everyone who gave him ideas agreed almost unanimously on the things that mattered most to Santa Cruz. Famous surf breaks, tattoo and massage parlors, the 2011 tsunami, street performers and various inside jokes make up the 300 or so specific-to-Santa Cruz details. In the distance, Burning Man flickers larger than the Statue of Liberty, and little figures hop both ways over the Mexican border.

The poster is “temporary guerilla,” hung with glue in the same fashion guerilla street artists hang their art, and although it’s been treated to be “slightly weatherproofed,” Scudder says it’s only a matter of time before the fog takes it.

But this is coming from a man who got his kicks last week out of toting a27-foot cardboard girl around town to photograph peeking into second story windows: The “very innocent” yet curious cardboard giant (she’s between 12 and 14 years old) is a precursor to a much bigger project Scudder’s working on, and a testament to his belief that art can be temporary.

“It’s literally there for a matter of moments, so it really only lives in photographs,” said Scudder.

“One day I hope we get to the point where we’re like Barcelona or Paris, where everything’s a piece of art, including the people. But we’ll get there one day,” Scudder says.

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