Debate over downtown Palm Springs mural continues

POSTED: 10:35 PM PST Nov 04, 2013 
PS Mural

A new outdoor mural in downtown Palm Springs is sparking some controversy and prompting action from the city council.  It' is also starting a debate about the future complexion of downtown.  The large mural is painted on Bar on North Palm Canyon Drive, the main strip of downtown.  It features two women in war paint, holding a giant snake.  It was painted by two professional artists, Finbarr Notte and Angelina Christian.  The pair have installations all over the world and were just commissioned by the city of Montreal to do some work.  "I think that it's been overwhelmingly positive and people absolutely want this kind of thing and this kind of activity to continue," said Reggie Cameron who works with local artists as well as consults for some valley cities.  

But, it can't continue, not right now.  The city approved the colors for the exterior of Bar, but did not clear the artistry.  "There's an approval process for colors," said Palm Springs city manager David  Ready.  "Then, we have quite a few regulations for signage.  Murals is one of those areas where there's no process."

While the city council considers a process for this and future mural, it must listen to the concerns of people like Nat Reed.  He owns an art gallery across the street from Bar.  Reed's art focuses on what he says the city is known for, a start contrast to the mural.  "It doesn't really reflect the Palm Springs style," said Reed.  "The 50s Rat Pack and that sort of thing."

While the mural and another one inside of Bar may not match how some view Palm Springs, Cameron argues it's the way to keep the city relevant and appealing to a younger demographic.  "IF the vendors or the merchants or the city sort of have a problem with this, they're really telling the people who are developing an investing in our economy here, that they're not welcoming to these customers," said Cameron.  

The fate of the mural now rests with the city council.  A challenge of giving enough attention to culture and commerce.  "We're looking to be innovative and creative, but at the same time, there's community standards that every city has, so we're trying to find that balance," said Ready. 

Ready says it will be 30 to 45 days before the issue reaches the council, making December the earliest time this could be resolved.