In 1981 the world mourned the death of Bob Marley to cancer. Now, nearly three decades later, Isla Vista must relive the loss, thanks to a thin layer of blue paint.
The “Marley house,” one of I.V.’s most infamous party houses, is now without its defining feature: the psychedelic mural featuring Marley’s face surrounded by the sun’s rays. According to tenants, the landlord painted over the front of the house and removed the concert stage in late December in order to make the house more appealing for purchase by a property management company. Since the well known mural was covered, the house’s occupants claim that there has been non-stop chatter from community members.
“We’ve had people come by on the streets and just yell up at us about it,” SBCC student and Marley house resident Brent Schultz said.
According to Schultz, occupants were unaware of the plans to repaint the building and did not take part in the decision to alter the house.
“It was absolutely not our call,” he said.
However, both Schultz and Nathan Dorsey, another occupant of the Marley House, voiced understanding for their landlord’s decision.
“Nobody would pick it up,” Schultz said. “This house has a reputation.”
The occupants hope to strike a balance between having a house that is desirable for both the I.V. student community and their landlord.
“We still want to have DJs and parties, but we don’t want to piss off the landlord,” Dorsey said.
The Marley house is among the oldest houses in I.V. The building is known by locals for concerts by a number of local bands — including Rebelution, whose band members actually lived in the house — and for some of the largest open parties held in the area.
Lorena Roel, a third-year history major, said that the mural was a well-known representation of I.V. culture.
“Yeah, it’s pretty famous,” Roel said. “I think the picture [was] super sweet. The artistic interpretation of Bob Marley’s face in a sun was actually really amazing.”
According to Schultz, the mural made the house an “identifiable” party house.
Roel also claimed that the mural on the Marley house was also a landmark for revelers navigating their way down Del Playa Drive.
“Now I’m not going to know where I am on DP,” Roel said. “I will feel like a freshman once again.”
Although the individuals leasing the space cannot legally repaint the building, they have decided to try and find a creative way to revamp the structure.
Occupants are still in the process of brainstorming an appropriate response, but there has been talk of a contest to be held among I.V. artists interested in creating a new face for the house. The mural would follow the Bob Marley theme and would be voted on by tenants and online by the I.V. community. The winning mural would be painted on a large canvas hung over the new paint job.
“That way, we’re not painting on the house, but we still have something,” Dorsey said.
Roel expressed confidence that the Marley house will live on.
“There are enough artists and painters in I.V. Something will equal or surpass the previous mural,” Roel said.
For those interested in contributing ideas or following the status of the building, the administrators of the “Marley House” Facebook page will be accepting decoration concepts from the community and will post updates on any upcoming contests.