Every year since it's inception, ArtWalk Ventura demonstrates how many amazing artists reside in this seaside city. One name that has become synonymous with the talent of our arts community is MB Hanrahan. An artist since 1984, she first came to Ventura in 1989, securing a studio at the original location of ArtCity (That is where she met Pedro Pulido for the first time as well).
MB holds a Bachelor's from UC Santa Cruz and a Master's In Art from Humboldt State University. She is a recipient of Ventura Mayor's "Artist In The Community" Award, and has held several esteemable positions on service boards while staying heavily involved on the front lines of neighborhood activism. However impressive, these degrees and awards only touch on how much greater good impact MB has had in this city and beyond.
This year, we have had the fortunate privilege of working closely with MB during her collaboration with Pedro Pulido on the "Havana to Ventura" street mural project. She was kind enough to take a few moments to answer some questions for our Artist Spotlight series. Here are her words:
When did you first discover your love for art?
I grew up around art and creativity. My Dad, his friends, and other close adult relatives were artists and/or performers, so it was not unusual to aspire to be an artist. I always said I was going to be an artist, and I was good at fine art, so my parents put me into classes. I trained my entire childhood, and throughout my formal education. The billboards on Sunset Blvd, and exposure to Pop Art in the 60’s profoundly influenced my populist/street art sensibility. I have had very few “regular jobs” and have been a freelance artist for the majority of my professional artist life.
This year for ArtWalk, you and Pedro Pulido are working on the "Havana To Ventura" mural project together. Describe the creative process you went through and how did you overcome geographic barriers and language differences?
I excel artistically when in collaboration with others, and have worked with many extraordinary artists/clients/designers in my career. It is a different and powerful way to create, and is not for everyone. Our designing process was limited to translated email descriptions, and drawings exchanged through a human courier (Bill Hendricks; photographer, educator), twice over a 3 month period. I studied Pedro’s style from examples of his work, researched quintessential Cuban images, and drew intuitively from Pedro’s sculpture ideas, and my impressions of Ventura. Due to City of Ventura formalities, a design had to be approved before he arrived. Pedro handled that graciously, arriving as he did to a mural in progress! When Pedro actually began to work on the mural, the Maestro added to and changed some elements of the design, for the better I feel. He works with community and youth to create public projects, as do I, so there was no problem in us both guiding volunteers and students in the painting. We had to merge and overlap our styles and ideas. I feel my contribution to this historic mural process is as a producer and on site coordinator, in addition to being a lead artist. Pedro is an accomplished artist, he is a predecessor, and I feel honored to create and learn from him. Finally, I believe we respect and trust each other- mandatory components to an effective collaboration. We met back when he was here working at ArtCity, so we are fellow ArtCitizens. though I wish I could speak Spanish more fluently, we did our best to speak face to face-there was usually someone to help with translating, fortunately. And, of course, a big picture is worth a million words.
What other projects are you involved with for ArtWalk this year?
My studio is hosting the Artists’ Union “Water” exhibition, in conjunction with 643 Project space, and ArtCity. I am participating in the Featured Artist Collectors Exhibition @ City Hall.
In your eyes, what does ArtWalk Ventura bring to the community?
ArtWalk brings awareness of local artists and venues.
What is your favorite memory from past ArtWalks?
I can say right now that making this mural in 2015 is definitely going to be one of my favorite memories. From past years, having a POD sponsored by Buena Tile on Main St. by the Museum, featuring my artwork in 2013 was up there as well.
What are the sources of inspiration for your work?
Pop culture, archetypes, surrealistic/ intuitive connections.
What upcoming projects are you most excited about?
I don’t have a specific upcoming project, and so the prospect of the future unknown is exciting to me.
How else are you involved in the Ventura community?
I teach art at El Camino Independent study High School. I do an Interview program for “Our Ventura” out of CAPS. I do volunteer work with recovering addicts in correctional facilities and in the community. I also do murals at many VUSD schools.
Where do you want your work to take you in the next year?
As usual, I will continue to create beauty in the town I love-especially on the Westside. I’d like to get some national or international attention as an artist out of Ventura. Five years and beyond? Publish a book of my postcards and one on the story of Tortilla Flats and the Tortilla Flats Mural.
For more on the Havana To Ventura mural project, please click here. MB Hanrahan's POD Gallery will be at the mural site on 50 W. Main Street. Her studio is located at Bell Arts Factory.