Little Ant Art Brings Beauty To Town - News

Little Ant Art Brings Beauty To Town

by Alessandra Selgi-Harrigan | Posted: Friday, January 17, 2020 1:33 pm

For almost three years Kelly Leiker has brought art to Imperial Beach to people of all ages through her classes, paint parties and murals. Her business is Little Ant Art which started on a small scale and is now growing and evolving.

While in high school and college Leiker loved to doodle on the margins of her notebooks. While studying to become a teacher, she would have liked to have taught art, but she was discouraged from doing that, so she chose science instead. After getting her multiple subject teaching credential and a Master’s degree in cross cultural education she started teaching art part-time at Mendoza Elementary and substitute teaching. Her intention was to continue working part-time because she has two young children ages 2 and 5 but her position changed to full-time.

Then life changed. “At the end of March 2017 I got a pink slip and in April I started my business,” Leiker said.

She started with a booth at the IB Farmer’s Market offering art lessons for $5 using recycled materials. She recalls collecting a lot of trash but not making much money. Then a friend suggested offering paint parties and Leiker liked the idea. She started with a studio at The Cove but she soon got busy, and held paint parties in people’s homes.

Since starting Little Ant Art, Leiker is now busier than ever, teaching art at various venues including Fridays at the IB Farmer’s Market, at the Community Center for the Arts in Nestor, at Luigi’s Pizza on Tuesdays, at the VFW on the third Thursday of the month, and at the Chula Vista RV Park twice a month. Leiker often works with an assistant, Alyssa Gonzalez, a high school student who also does face painting at the Farmer’s Market.

In addition she still holds paint parties and has worked on a number of murals including one at Emory School and a few for private individuals. She is currently in touch with the IB Arts Bureau and has placed bids for a few murals.

It seems like a long time ago when Leiker held her first paint party. It was an idea suggested by a friend for her boyfriend’s birthday held at Pier Plaza. Her friend bought Leiker the easels for her business as payment.

Leiker who grew up in Imperial Beach lives in the same home she grew up in with her husband and her two daughters. She credits her mother’s help babysitting her daughter with helping her business grow by giving her more free time.

Leiker’s first mural was painted on a wall at Bibbey’s Shell Shop which features a whimsical Dr. Seuss-inspired sandcastle. Her husband Michael Carson and her friend Jessica Pamplin helped her with the mural which took about 15 hours to finish.

“Then I was kind of hooked,” she said about her first mural. The next mural was on a wall on Donax Avenue across from the Red House Kitchen as part of IB Beautiful graffiti abetement program. For that particular mural she studied the local vegetation and painted a variety of plants. “I talked to the owners [of the property] and they wanted something that blended in,” she explained.

Leiker had the idea of a mural for Emory Elementary because she was tired of looking at a tagged wall every time she drove by. She first approached the school with the idea. “The school paid for the paint and I was able to get high school kids to work with me [for] service hours, and I painted for free,” she explained.

‘When my work is slow, I drive around and look for walls to create designs for,” she said. ‘It’s so nice to paint outside and listen to music.”

Leiker looks forward to create more murals in the future. “I love to make the community I live in more beautiful” she said. “I would like to offer affordable murals even in the 92154 zip code and have high school kids help me, so they feel they’re helping the community. There are a lot of walls that need some love.”

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