Grant-funded Program from The San Diego Museum of Art Brings Public Art to Four San Diego Communities
SAN DIEGO, CA – The San Diego Museum of Art is pleased to announce the completion of public art projects for Open Spaces, the public art program funded by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation’s Exploring Engagement Fund. Open Spaces worked with residents and artists in four San Diego communities and their surrounding areas – Lemon Grove, Lincoln Park, Logan Heights and National City – to conceptualize, plan and create works of art.
The mission of Open Spaces, which began working in communities in June 2013, was to cultivate and strengthen relationships with diverse local neighborhoods through art, and to support The San Diego Museum of Art to share art beyond its home in Balboa Park. For the program, an artist-in-residence worked with residents and community artists in underserved San Diego neighborhoods to create works of public art that reflect the unique social fabric of each area, build a personal sense of identity among its community members, and encourage the further growth of cultural initiatives in the area.
Each community was granted $30,000 to be used towards the realization and implementation of a public work of art. Through a series of collaborative community meetings open to all and facilitated by Open Spaces Program Coordinator Irma Esquivias, an artist-in-residence and lead artist, each community worked together to determine the content and process for completing its public art project.
“It’s inspiring to see the path each community chose on what was important to them,” said Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director of The San Diego Museum of Art. “From using art to take back a violence-prone intersection to creating a bilingual grassroots radio station, the power of art is truly transformative and the Museum is incredibly proud to have been the facilitator for these important community conversations and public art projects.”
The community of Lemon Grove is using art to illuminate and bring a sense of safety to a dark and uninviting underpass located on Buena Vista Avenue and State Route 94. Located on the east and west walls of a 120-ft. long, 20-ft. tall underpass, this collaborative mural incorporates a sunrise and sunset wall each overlaid with large-scale illustrations.
Including more than 15 varieties of locally-grown flora and fauna, the images used are inspired by direct feedback from the community – they carry history, symbolic meaning, and convey the sense of pride that the community expressed for their climate. Designed by Lemon Grove resident artist Richard Luna, the mural incorporates the lemon blossom as a symbol of community pride alongside native-grown bougainvillea, agave, and succulents, and other plants to represent the diversity and resilience of the Lemon Grove community.
To complete the mural, a series of workshops were held over several weekends inviting residents, local artists and community groups to paint pieces of the mural, with additional participants given large panels to complete from their homes. A community celebration showcasing the in-progress installation will take place on Saturday, July 25 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Home Depot in Lemon Grove (7530 Broadway), with the official completion of the mural expected in August 2015.
In Lincoln Park, artist-in-residence Roberto Salas worked with lead artist Todd Stands, where the community chose to use public art to change the environment and aesthetics of the intersection at Euclid and Imperial known as the “Four Corners of Death.” After an initial proposal for a light installation at the intersection was presented to the City of San Diego, it was not accepted due to potential traffic safety issues.
In revisiting works of art, the concept of bringing a transformative light to this intersection continued to resonate. Utilizing temporary and permanent installations, the community decided to place positive words and messages made using reflective street sign material also visible at night on businesses, and private property around the area. Utilizing more than 30 English, Spanish and Lao words or phrases collected from residents, those chosen reflect the diverse nature and shared sentiments of their community. Ranging from “Live Love Laugh Learn” to “Adelante,” which means move forward in Spanish, the pieces are centered near the intersection at Greene Cat Liquor, the Imperial Barber Shop, A Plus Auto Center and more, with temporary pieces placed on fences throughout the neighborhood.
The community celebration for the new piece took place on July 5 as part of the second annual Four Corners of Life Celebration, a program designed to further inspire positivity at the intersection.
In Logan Heights, facilitated by artist-in-residence Roberto Salas and lead artist and Logan Heights resident Misael Diaz, the community created Radio Pulso del Barrio, a bilingual art, culture and education-centric radio station designed, built, and maintained by the communities of the greater Logan Heights area. The goal of Radio Pulso del Barrio is to connect and empower its neighborhoods by giving residents a voice to create and maintain a dialogue about issues that matter to them most. First broadcasting in Spring 2014, and holding an official opening celebration on May 30, 2015, the station airs at http://www.radiopulsodelbarrio.com, broadcasting out of a home base studio at the Bread & Salt Gallery in Logan Heights. Volunteer committees collected content and developed programming, also forming a board to create a long-term sustainability for Radio Pulso del Barrio.
Programming is created by local artists, activists and musicians, and includes 15 different programs such as the “Breakfast Burrito Club” airing live every morning from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. playing an eccentric music playlist and providing updates on current events, news, history, culture and resourceful information for the community, and “El Daily Justice,” a news and entertainment program airing Mondays 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
In National City, the community decided to install a series of large-scale, colorful butterfly sculptures to beautify the area and represent the city’s growth and positive metamorphosis. Completed by residents over several weekend workshops, the project incorporates 35 cut out aluminum butterflies customized with vinyl shapes, textures, and patterns selected by community members.
Together these one-of-a-kind, collaborative pieces form a “Butterfly Path” throughout the city. Mounted at 7-ft. tall, and covered with reflective material visible both in day and night, these sculptures will be placed in the Arts District, Kimball Park, Las Palmas Park, Butterfly Park and Olivewood Gardens, utilizing public space to create an outdoor gallery.
This project, which was overseen by artist-in-residence Roberto Salas and lead artist and National City resident Crystal Mercado and Nassem Navab was installed in late June with a community celebration in the works for late July at Butterfly Park.