Painting a Mural with Beautify Earth

Beautify Earth Mural

I heard about Beautify Earth toward the end of last year. They’re a 501(c)3 non-profit that transform bare, neglected city walls into beautiful murals. Their projects engage artists with their surrounding communities to spread art education awareness.

I arrived at Wallpaper City & Flooring in Santa Monica early on Saturday morning. There were a couple of men bustling about the mural site already, prepping the painting area before the flood of children would arrive. The lead artist was painting a template for the mural – bold lettering in a language that I didn’t understand. He seemed fluent, though. He painted the wall quickly, and with ease – like an old trick he’d perfected a million times over. His name was Retna.

Beautify Earth Mural

As I started to paint over his templated lines, a flurry of volunteers showed up to help. There were now about 10 or 15 of us on the scene, all moving about, filling in one letter at a time. After a while, people started decorating their plain letters. Some added depth, some added texture – no two letters were turning out the same. Kind of a neat little metaphor for how we do things in Los Angeles – each of us leaving our own, special mark.

Beautify Earth Mural

One of the best things about making live art is the reaction you get from bystanders.

“What are you doing?”

“What’s this for?”

“Can I help?”

“This is awesome – you guys are good people!”

I think people are sometimes caught off guard when others make art for the sake of it being beautiful. It’s important that we take initiative, and make this world what we want it to be.


Volunteering with this group was a total blast, and I can’t wait to help out with the next project. If you want to get involved, sign up for updates on Beautify Earth’s website.

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