Five years ago, when I last talked to Pacific Beach artist Autumn Love, she just finished a new sidewalk message on Emerald Street, wiped chalk off her scraped knees, and gave me a big hug.
Last week when I visited her, she just finished a new “love” message at the intersection of Bayard and Emerald streets, wiped chalk off her hands and still scraped knees, and gave me a virtual hug from six feet away.
Same dimpled smile, same sparkle in her eyes, and same enthusiastic messages of love and gratitude. Just what the doctor, er, the love guru ordered.
Autumn has been filling sidewalks and the boardwalk with her positive messages of love off-and-on for about six years when she moved here after graduating from University of Michigan. For the past five years, her love-themed paintings have adorned the walls of local businesses, she’s developed and hosted creative workshops, and her “Love Mugs” are one of the most popular items requested at artbyautumn.com.
Now 30, and established in Pacific Beach, the petite love bug still skateboards around PB with a pocket full of chalk ready to create when the mood strikes, which is often. And our mood definitely needs some brightening up. It’s Autumn’s time to shine.
Why write these messages?
Autumn: How can I use this love I have channeling through me? Especially at this time, when it’s needed more than ever. I write these messages to help spread the energy of love to the world. Love heals. Love is eternal medicine to life. And chalking messages on the sidewalk is almost free – it’s just a piece of chalk – and people are walking around so it’s an easy and accessible way to reach anyone.
Why did you start it?
Autumn: I love being on the boardwalk and skateboarding. I noticed that so many people on the boardwalk were just on their phones. I would pass so many people who were looking down at their phones.
I’m an artist. I love to draw, write, I love creating fonts. I just sort of combined it all and people are out here and how do I reach them? They are looking down and going to the beach, so I just started chalking love. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time either – so it was an inexpensive way to do something. It’s interactive and I like to be physically active while I’m creating, its a bunch of things in one.
I just have in me the feeling of love and I want to give that out – go up and hug strangers – I can’t now, of course, it’s just in me. I feel it’s my calling. To raise the love energy of the world.
What kind of feedback do you receive?
Autumn: It’s been 99 percent good. It’s a great conversation starter for people. People will be walking by and say “what’s this about?” and encourage an exchange of love. It put me in a position for those interactions and start a thought process for people.
This morning, as I was doing this piece, people were walking by thanking me. Some say, “So you’re the one doing these messages.” That’s one of the main things people say to me.
A lot of people give thanks and gratitude toward me for it and I just give it back. I say, “It’s for you.
It’s for all of us.” It’s been really good feedback.
A few people complained that it’s graffiti and defacing the sidewalk. I just say, it’s chalk. It’s temporary. You can pour water over it and it’s gone. I think that’s part of the gift of it, it’s not permanent, it’s temporary and that’s appealing to me.
What’s happening with your art?
Autumn: I’m doing the love mugs. I’ve also started side projects during the quarantine. I started screenprinting on socks. That’s been fun. I’ve been working on bigger pieces as well.
I want to donate art to a hospital or care facility. During this time, it would be great to get my love pieces in front of people who are sick and alone right now. How do I get it to people who need healing?
I’ve been doing a lot of painting at my studio and brainstorming on how to disseminate it – how do we spread the love? That’s the challenging part for me. I just want to create.
Visit @artbyautumn on Instagram to see more of Autumn’s artwork and love messages.