OB Community Mural Project mixes public art, pride in neighborhood
by Terrie Leigh Relf
Published - 02/08/12 - 01:35 PM | 13410 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An example of one of Ocean Beach’s eleven mounted murals that have been created during the community’s annual mural projects.                                            Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
An example of one of Ocean Beach’s eleven mounted murals that have been created during the community’s annual mural projects. Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
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A tribute mural to one of the founders of the annual Ocean Beach Community Mural Project — the late Rich James — stands outside the James Gang print shop.       Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
A tribute mural to one of the founders of the annual Ocean Beach Community Mural Project — the late Rich James — stands outside the James Gang print shop. Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
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A community mural in Ocean Beach would hardly be complete without some sort of beach or surfing representation. 
                                       Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
A community mural in Ocean Beach would hardly be complete without some sort of beach or surfing representation. Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
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While San Diego may be home to quite a few public art displays, Ocean Beach is a veritable outdoor gallery. Thanks to the combined efforts of the late Rich James, the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association (OBMA) and the people of Ocean Beach, once you’re in the heart of this eclectic community, you don’t need to look — or stroll — very far to view one of the eleven murals mounted to the walls of area businesses and restaurants.

At Union Bank, located at 1858 Cable St., there is the 2009 community mural, which proudly waves the American flag along with a frothy beer mug and requisite fireworks. Then there’s the 2005 mural at OB Suds Car Wash, located at 5002 Voltaire St., which sports the OB Pier and a gathering of animated people. All the offerings speak to locals and visitors alike.

Other locations include Bravos’s Mexican Bistro & Cantina, located at 5001 Newport Ave. The parking lot mural was created for the 2000 OB Street Fair, while another, which sports the James Gang’s company logo overlooking James himself in his classic blue convertible, was designed in 2008 by James’ friend and mentor, Janis Ambrosiani, to honor James’ legacy.

Ambrosiani assumed the project in 2008 and continues to volunteer her time on the committee.

While each mural has its own unique theme, they all resonate with vibrant images of local sights — and some even give rise to scents and sounds. They range from the wild, green parrots that wake residents at dawn to flip-flops on sand, surfers careening through swells and to all the lively, happy people strolling along the beloved beach, boardwalk and pier.

The murals are comprised of pre-illustrated individual squares, and literally thousands of them of have been painted since 1999, when the first mural, designed by Rich James, was mounted at the parking lot of Surf ’n’ Sea Custom Wetsuits, located at 1874 Bacon St.

In 1999, James, along with Gerrie Trussel, a former OBMA executive director, worked together on first mural painting project as a community-building event for the 20th annual Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off. Since then, the painting booth has become an ongoing fixture during the annual street fair, held on the fourth Saturday of every June.

Denise “Denny” Knox, OBMA’s current executive director, says, “We’re very excited about our 2012 mural concept which, of course, will include a surfboards theme and a salute to the 125th anniversary of Ocean Beach. The artists working on the mural design will be presenting the conceptual drawings in April to our Street Fair Committee for approval.”

So where will the 2012 mural be displayed? There are a number of options, according to Knox, but they won’t be announced until closer to June.

The squares may be purchased at the community booth for $10 each. Proceeds are used toward upkeep, but they only cover part of the material, installation and maintenance costs, said Knox. As a result, these expenses are covered by the OBMA.

It is hoped that the Ocean Beach Community Foundation will be able to partner with the OBMA on many of these beautification projects and help share in the maintenance and upkeep of the community improvements, Knox said.

Visitors are encouraged to stop by the mural booth during this year’s street fair and grab a square, a paintbrush and be part of this artistic and community-building tradition.

For more information, call (619) 224-4906, or visit www.oceanbeach-sandiego.com. The Ocean Beach Community Foundation may be contacted by email at [email protected], or by visiting www.wesupportob.com.
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