New mural in Ocean Beach is the bee’s knees
by THOMAS MELVILLE
Published - 08/03/17 - 02:48 PM | 6778 views | 0 0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Celeste Byers paints the ‘Beekeeper’ mural in between Newport and Niagara avenues in Ocean Beach. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
Celeste Byers paints the ‘Beekeeper’ mural in between Newport and Niagara avenues in Ocean Beach. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
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Ocean Beach artist Celeste Byers explains how she created her latest mural off Cable Street. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
Ocean Beach artist Celeste Byers explains how she created her latest mural off Cable Street. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
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Earlier this year, Celeste Byers received a message from local beekeeper Shauna Aiken. She wanted to commission Byers to create a mural to honor the memory of her late Grandma Willie, while calling attention to the importance of bees, as well as the history of Ocean Beach.

Maybe those three things don’t seem like they would work together in a painting, but Byers has a little different perspective of things. The Ocean Beach native describes her work as conveying the “mystical in the everyday and magic beyond what we can perceive.”

Byers is an internationally-renowned muralist, who has painted more than 45 murals in the United States, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia. This mural will be her fourth in her hometown.

Obecians are familiar with her work on the side of Teeter, at 5032 Niagara Ave., the store front of Often Wander Noon, at 4993 Niagara Ave., and on the alley side of Chris' Liquor and Deli, at 2275 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

The 28-year-old artist has a BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and makes her living creating freelance illustration and murals. You can check out (and buy) more of her artwork at her new art show at Culture Brewing Co., at 4845 Newport Ave., from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4.

This latest mural, in the alley between Newport and Niagara avenues (near Kilowatt Brewing), is on the side of an apartment building owned by the Aiken family, who bought property in Ocean Beach in 1887 when lots were only $50.

The woman portrayed in the mural, Grandma Willie, was a colorful character who lived in Ocean Beach in the ’60s. She wore different colored nail polish on every nail and her husband built UFOs in the front yard and sold tickets for people to view them, according to Aiken.

Byers used a black-and-white photo of Grandma Willie – wearing the hat and glasses – added color and included bees and honeycomb on a blue background. “I like bright, bold colors,” she said. “I want it to stand out.”

Byers stood out in her early 20s when she stood up and painted the side of her father’s airplane hanger with humpback whales in kelp beds. That painting got her noticed and led to more mural requests and eventually a paying gig, which led to another, and another, and now 46 and counting.

She has worked for such diverse companies as New York Times, American Express, Medium.com, and Lucky Peach Magazine.

Last year, Warner Bros. asked Byers to design a Wonder Woman mural to paint at Comic Con for the superhero's 75th anniversary.

Also in 2016, she created a mural titled “Freedom / Captivity” on the side of La Bodega Gallery, at 2196 Logan Ave., for PangeaSeed Foundation’s Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans project.

“It’s great to be able to paint at home in Ocean Beach and around San Diego, but I love being able to travel,” Byers said.

“When I’m in another country, I like to immerse myself in a community and let it inspire me for my next mural. That makes me happy, and hopefully other people are happy with the results.”

ART SHOW

What: Ocean Beach artist Celeste Byers, will exhibit her paintings, and drawings.

Where: Culture Brewing Co.,

at 4845 Newport Ave.

When: 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4.

Info: celestebyers.com.

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