Mural,Mural On The Wall

A project to bring art to the public in partnership with building owners grows stronger

SEATTLE ARTIST Roy McMakin stood next to an office building on Eads Avenue in La Jolla and asked strangers to name their favorite color. The hue of that color they then selected from swatches was painted on a cinder block on the building wall.

The result is a serendipitous patchwork, 30 squares by 29 squares, titled Favorite Color — the second work in the Murals of La Jolla project.

“I think it’s a great idea to enhance the natural beauty of La Jolla and provide added value to people that visit us from other parts of the city or just tourists in general,” says Leon Kassel, who owns the building on which Roy painted. “I’ve had comments from neighbors; they just love it. And my tenants are proud of it, of course.”

The heads of La Jolla’s major visual arts organizations held their inaugural Murals of La Jolla meeting in June 2010 and by the end of the year had two completed projects: Kim MacConnel’s Girl From Ipanema on the back side of the Lapiz Building, visible from Drury Lane (see page 8) and Roy’s Favorite Color. 

This April, Fred Tomaselli of Brooklyn, N.Y., Julian Opie of London and Gajin Fujita of Los Angeles raised the count to 12 (counting Opie’s double-sided installation as two murals).

“We always have a number of murals in the pipeline,” says Lynda Forsha, project curator, principal of Art Advisory Services and member of the mural advisory committee that matches buildings and artists. 

“We scope out buildings that look like they have potential because they have big walls. We contact the building owners and ask if they are interested [in participating in the mural program]. The committee meets, and we generate a list of artists.

Once selected, an artist develops a proposal to be ap-proved by the committee and the building owner. Roy, who now splits his time between homes in Seattle and San Diego, recalls how the Favorite Color concept came to him

“I saw all the 9-inch grids and was intrigued and responded to that.” He came up with 55 color swatches, and the blocks were painted in sequence from top left across and down to the bottom right. Building owner Leon chose a hue of orange for his favorite color and says it is “somewhere in the top right corner.

Leon also favors John Baldessari’s Brain/Cloud (with Seascape and Palm Tree) outside George’s at the Cove on Prospect Street (and visible from Coast Boulevard below) and Kim MacConnel’s Girl From Ipanema.  on a building owned by Leon’s brother-in-law.

“We have murals that inspire imagination,” Leon says

According to Roy, he and a lot of other artists are “not that enthusiastic about” going through what he calls the “cumbersome” public art process, whereas Murals of La Jolla places their work on private property where they are intended for a large-scale public viewing. Because they are on private property, the works are not subject to city ordinance

“It’s not signage. It’s art,” Lynda says. The project is funded by private donations, and the advisory committee has maintenance built into its budget, with each mural expected to remain on view for at least two years. The first two murals were painted directly on the buildings. Subsequent murals have been printed on vinyl and then stretched over frames mounted to the buildings. The first to be “rotated” — Anya Gallaccio’s Surf’s Up on Fay Avenue — was replaced in April by Gajin Fujita’s Tail Whip. The other two recently installed murals are on new building sites. 

The committee’s strengths, Lynda says, are the members’ expertise and contacts in the world of art. “I have been impressed that the [committee] has been able to get world-famous artists to put their work in La Jolla,” Roy says, acknowledging that point. 

Categories: Lifestyles