Public art can be so … pedestrian. But a new mural going up at the San Luis Obispo City/County Library seems out to defy this stereotype. It’s coming from Dominican artist Robert Maja, one of the first artists to participate in the Box Art project (you know, those painted utility boxes in downtown SLO) back in 2010. His own Cubist-inspired electrical box is on display on the corner of Monterey and Santa Rosa streets.
The new mural, titled World Movement, will revitalize the interior of the library (which is more than 23 years old). The piece was created “to touch on the idea of forward motion and social progress within in the social framework of many communities worldwide,” according to a press release issued by the library.
Recognized both internationally and in his home country of the Dominican Republic, Maja attended fine art school in Santo Domingo before studying visual arts in Madrid, Spain. Maja went on to win many juried exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. The artist, who has long worked with youth, was named the official muralist with youth programs for the Dominican presidency, a post he’s held for the past four years.
A preview of the work reveals a vibrant, textured tableau of people engaged in art and leisure. Blue- and red-haired musicians pour their souls into their instruments, while diners chat outdoors at a Cubist café. Street scenes blend seamlessly into images of city life, their lines and patterns synchronizing.
“Throughout Robert’s travels, he has discovered that within each individual community, there are many more similarities than differences,” press materials explain. “We all experience our own unique movements with respect to gastronomy, music, dance, culture, technology, and education. All these are interwoven and form part of the human experience, which should be shared and revered by all.”
When finished, World Movement will cover 80 feet of the library’s atrium. The mural, which has been in the works for a year already, is the project of the city of San Luis Obispo’s Visual Arts in Public Places Program, the San Luis Obispo Friends of the Library, Harold J. Miossi Charitable Trust, and the artist. ∆