His assignment was to represent inclusivity in Ocean Beach. Artist Aaron Glasson went one better. Figures he painted in a mural on the side of Little Lion Cafe at 1424 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. not only expound on that theme but are Ocean Beach residents.
“Jacqueline (Coulon, cafe co-owner) spoke to me of doing something really speaking to unity during this time when the country is very divided,” said multi-disciplinary artist Glasson, who also does sculpture, painting, and illustrations. “I came up with the concept of painting four women of different ages and ethnicities, all moving forward together collectively as a kind of symbolic gesture open to interpretation.”
The end result is a mural as minimalist as it is imaginative, depicting four women along with a dog and a seagull paddling in a canoe.
“We’ve always wanted to do something (artistic), paint the wall, but didn’t have the budget,” noted Jacqueline Coulon, who co-owns and operates Little Lion along with sister Anne-Marie Coulon-Ferguson. “At one point during quarantine we were sitting around and I said, ‘Now is the time to do this project, and the message should be about inclusivity here in OB.’ And that was it.”
The Coulon sisters are granddaughters continuing the culinary tradition of well-known San Diego restaurateurs Don and Arlene Coulon.
Coulon asked Glasson, a New Zealand-native artist now based in California if he was interested in such a project. “He said he’d love to do it,” added Coulon. Then came the hard part, finding funding.
“We actually did a GoFundMe, and our customers raised the money in 24 hours for something we’d been waiting six years to do,” said Jacqueline Coulon. “Most of our customers live in the neighborhood and wanted to have artwork on that gray wall, which everyone sees on the way to (and from) Sunset Cliffs.”
Glasson took it from there. Of his technique in painting the mural, which took about 10 days, Glasson said: “They’re (mural figures) actually all friends of mine, all people who modeled for me. I photographed them all separately and painted them into the mural.”
Noted Glasson: “I normally try to incorporate local people into my murals. I want my work to reflect the places in which they live. Painting people who live there is part of the process.”
In crafting his mural, Glasson used a brush and roller utilizing mostly outdoor house paint. “I just wanted to do something warm, the whole mural has a really warm feel to it,” he said.
Regarding what he used as a model for Little Lion’s mural, Glasson noted: “The actual photograph that inspired the painting was one I took of a couple of friends in a canoe shot during the California wildfires that had a weird golden look in the sky.”
Concerning cafe customers anteing up to pay for his OB mural, Glasson concluded, “It speaks well to their customers, and the community, that it happened so quickly.”
Glasson has an exhibition of his work at Swish Project Art Gallery at 2903 El Cajon Blvd, in North Park starting Feb. 27. For more information about Glasson, visit Aaron Glasson.