Posts Tagged ‘Murals of La Jolla’

Outdoor Art: Murals and Trash Cans

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Mural by Irwin and Rittermann

Mural by Irwin and Rittermann

Irwin and Rittermann Mural

Irwin and Rittermann Mural

I try to keep up with the Murals in La Jolla but the last one popped up several months ago and I went in search of it.

Searching is not as much fun as discovering outdoor art unexpectedly.  Outdoor art often is  a destination, like monuments and murals.

The La Jolla murals (now twelve) have been up awhile and each one is remarkable but not all provide a sense of wonder as in “wow!”

Robert Irwin presented an installation in London and Philipp Scholz Rittermann photographed it. The result is a relatively new mural in La Jolla. It’s a visually challenging play of objects and perspective, mixing real elements, i.e. palm trees, cars, and streetlight, with the stretched vinyl reproduction of the photograph. It’s hard to walk by without trying to figure it out.  That sets it apart from some of the murals which require only a quick glance to sense the artists’ subject. But like most, it is impossible to photograph without the environmental elements—hence, outdoor art.

On a smaller scale are this car seat and trash can on the waterfront in Moro Bay.  We definitely just tripped upon this art on a walk around the small bay.  Both pieces are fun.

Car Seat

Car Seat

The car seat looks real from a short distance and seems to be abandoned junk that didn’t make it to the landfill. And it is impossible to look at without seeing the boats and wharf. But when you get up close, you can see a plaque in memory of a friend and we can read a little history into the torn car seat and the tools. No doubt it was placed here for a reason. We don’t need to know the reason or the person. It is a tribute.

Trash Can

Trash Can

The interesting trash can is obviously a way to spruce up an ugly container for, well, trash. It’s a mosaic with a waterfront theme–a surprise. Definitely site specific, definitely part of the setting, a human comment on the harbor.

Trash and art. That about says it all.


Gajin Fujita and Fred Tomaselli: Murals in La Jolla

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013
Fujita's Tail Whip

Fujita’s Tail Whip

Tomaselli's Learning to Fly(for the Zeros)

Tomaselli’s Learning to Fly(for the Zeros)

There are two recent additions to the murals in the village of La Jolla.  Gajin Fujita’s Tail Whip and Fred Tomaselli’s Learning to Fly (for the Zeros). And they are widely different and both sort of alarming at first glance.

Fujita’s is on a wall on Fay Street which used to have Anna Gallaccio’s electron microscope picture of a sand grain Surf’s Up on it.  The last time I saw Surf’s Up it did look a little faded but I really have no idea why it’s been replaced. The official webpage for the murals offers no explanation and in fact Gallaccio’s name is gone from that site.  I thought that was odd.

Fujita’s piece is on a black background and looks very “urban graffitti.” There is a dragon swooshing through it, although from a distance it’s hard to pick out. A passerby said it was very controversial but I think anytime you put something on a wall it’s controversial. This, more than the other murals, requires a certain suspension of OMG IT’S GRAFFITI.  It is not the only mural in La Jolla that causes instant opinions.  Thankfully.  We hardly need art that nobody notices.

Detail, Tail Whip

Detail, Tail Whip

Fred Tomaselli’s piece is very noticeable. It’s at the intersection of the major road into La Jolla, Torrey Pines Road,  and the major shopping street, Girard. I was in heavy traffic slowing to the intersection and glanced up and whoa, there it was. This naked guy falling through space. Tomaselli’s explanation of the piece involves considering the wall as a stage and his nod towards the “punk scene” of his earlier time in L.A. (see the writeup in The La Jolla Light). But that is not the instant impression.  It reminded one of my friends of 9/11.  And at the intersection, in traffic, it is a little scary.  Up close, butterflies and insects can be seen in the black space and the body is filled with internal organs.

Detail, Learning to Fly

Detail, Learning to Fly

So, what does it all mean?  Go figure. I think both pieces are great murals because each gets an instant gut reaction from the viewer. That’s a lot better than nobody noticing. A large wall and seconds to make a point—the challenge of murals.

Murals of La Jolla-Robert Ginder

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013


Robert Ginder's "House"

Detail, Robert Ginder's "House"

Robert Ginder’s House is the seventh mural to find a home on an empty wall in La Jolla, California.

And it is the most accessible. It’s on the wall of a former art gallery right on Prospect in La Jolla. And it is between two buildings that you can walk through. And no cars can park in front of it.  So it was easy to get up close.

The original painting is oil on wood and uses 22-karat gold leaf in addition to the oils. The details show up very well on this enlargement. The reflections in the windows and the shadows on the “stucco” make this very realistic and a good reason to walk up and peer at it.  If it wasn’t printed on a large piece of vinyl and attached to a large wall it would be easy to miss as a painting. There are a lot of houses in San Diego that look like this. Unfortunately, when I was there in mid-morning not one passerby looked up at it.  That might be the case with all of the Murals of La Jolla. Maybe they only get, at best, a passing glance. But this one is so easy to examine and appreciate the details. If you can find a place to park, be sure to walk up close to this.


I’ve blogged about the first six in previous posts. They represent a wide variety of artistic viewpoints, from clean design such as   Kim MacConnel’s tall ribbons of color, Girl From Ipanema and Roy McMakin’s ceramic tiles, Favorite Colors.

Anya Gallaccio’s electron microscope photo of a sand grain, Surf’s Up is getting hard to see. It seems to be fading or maybe it’s just hard to get a handle on what it is. Close up, the unusual shapes are more interesting than the whole.

Ryan McGinness’s  53 Women causes a lot of comments. I always hear one or two similar to “Holy Cow.”

John Baldessari’s odd pairing, Brain Cloud with SeaScape and Palm Tree is not easy to see. You have to look way up from the sidewalk by the cove on a wall facing another high wall.


But Ann Hamilton’s at sea is easy to see on the CitiBank wall which is directly opposite 53 Women and it is an image we can recognize.


Ann Hamilton’s Mural in La Jolla

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Ann Hamilton's By Sea

Ann Hamilton's By Sea

So it’s been in the 90’s here and traffic to the sea is bumper-to-bumper. But there is a new addition (well, new since May 2012) to the Murals of La Jolla which is worth the wait in traffic if you aren’t already heading to sand and salt water (not to mention the jelly-fish and sting rays competing with splashing humans).

Ann Hamilton’s web page has some heavy academic prose explaining her installations. Personally, I find the erudite stuff unnecessary and a bit over-the-top. This new mural of a Tall Ship is titled “By Sea” and we do not need any help in relating to it, especially in San Diego where we have the Maritime Museum and the Star of India always on our waterfront. And especially since Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before The Mast charts the 1835 coast of California for us, and twenty some Tall Ships are coming to San Diego in two weeks for the 2012 Festival of Sails.

Hamilton’s By Sea is on one large wall of the CitiBank building on Herschel Avenue in La Jolla. It is a digital print on vinyl as are some of the other Murals of La Jolla. Interestingly, it is directly opposite the bright pinks, blues, and yellows of Ryan McGinness’s 53 Women. You can see both with a simple head turn and the contrast couldn’t be greater.

McGinness’s is clean outlines. Hamilton’s is intentionally fuzzy or blurry or misty or elementally vague, whichever adjective conveys the haunting quality of the ship from the past sailing into the unknown on a wall of a modern financial institution. Nice.

It’s hard to divorce the ship from the mural’s modern surroundings. That is part of the viewing challenge of outdoor art. But it’s also part of the overall feeling that a Tall Ship in the midst of uncharted waters is a journey we take divorced from modern times.

You can make of this misty ship any journey you want.

McGinness on one wall clearly expresses his own vision. Hamilton on the opposite wall joins her vision to ours.  See both.

And check out the far horizon just a short walk away at the edge of the real and highly mythical Pacific.