When the IB Arts Bureau was formed four years ago it was with the idea to create art and beautify the city. The founders, artists Todd Stands, Malcolm Jones and Anne Porter created the bureau at the request of Mayor Serge Dedina. With time the original goal has been accomplished and last year alone 12 murals were painted on buildings creating a buzz in the city. Before the year ended there were actually 13 mural, thanks to young artist Bella Anderson who painted one on the back of Stardust Donuts.
In total the IB Arts Bureau has created 20 murals including the very visible one on the AT&T building. In 2018 the bureau held three Rock the Wall bike tours where participants rode bikes to see the murals and in some cases met the artists.
The process of choosing walls for murals proved to be complicated since many times it was the tenants who wanted the art, so the bureau often had to ask the landlord for permission. “To do 20 murals we looked at 40 sites,” explained Jones who is now the treasurer of the group.
Many of the themes, if not most of them, have to do with the local surf culture and the preservation of the natural environment. Jones pointed out one of the murals painted on the wall of the State Farm office on SR-75 as an example of collaboration between the artists and the landlord. He explained that the artist wanted to paint something that had a sea level rise theme, so the bureau and the owner worked together and the mural ended up showing the State Farm office under 10 feet of water.
All the murals were accomplished thanks to the volunteers and artists who worked for free and often paid for the paint and supplies. “From the artists’ perspective it’s super fun but problematic because we had no money. Most of our time was spent doing the work and we were amazed. It couldn’t have happened in any other place… I’ve never seen artists having that kind of control with the affirmation of the mayor. We were in a little bubble,” explained Jones, who is also the artist who created the sculpture “Surfhenge” on the pier and a well-known public artist.
One of the reasons behind becoming a non-profit is the ability to raise funds and allow donors to have deductible tax receipts as an incentive. Jones said that it is thanks to Manny Ganuza, a new member, that IB Arts Bureau will soon be a non-profit.
The IB Arts Bureau is currently looking at a few projects around town. One of them is to beautify the utility boxes around the city, possibly with the help of the artist who painted a lot of them a few years ago. The bureau recently received a list form SDG&E and found out there are 2,200 boxes all over IB so the group will have to prioritize. There is also a thought that the utility boxes could be wrapped with art as it has been done in Coronado, a more expensive process. “It’s all done digitally and fairly expensive. We suggest a pilot program and maybe fund 10 of them,” Jones said.
This coming Saturday, May 11, the Arts Bureau has organized the Cali-Baja Arts Fest at Veteran’s Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. which will feature artists from Northern Baja and musicians from California and Baja including IB’s own DAB. This festival is along the lines of a festival held some years ago called Fiesta del Rio featuring music and art from Baja. “It’s a really interesting cross-cultural festival,” said Jones.
Twenty booths will be on hand with artists showing and selling their creations. “IB has a chance to lead in this aspect; culturally we are in the right position. Mexicans feel comfortable in IB, it’s laid back and we hope to use the culture to bridge the divide,” he said. “Mexico has been getting an unfair amount of press on the immigration issue.”
Another project the bureau will be working on is the “Blue Wave” in the median at SR-75 and 7th Street. The six waves were created by artist Paul Hobson and installed in 2001. Jones explained that about two years ago a car went over the median and hit one of the waves destroying it. The other waves are also in bad shape and many of the tiles have fallen off although the concrete base is fine.
“When [Hobson] put the waves up, Caltrans didn’t want anything in the median higher that 3 feet and he got into a dispute over the top part,” said Jones.
The artist wanted to use cinder blocks but Caltrans insisted in using wood. With time the wood got wet and the tiles started falling off. The Italian tiles used for the piece are fortunately still available.
“The consensus is that we preserve the foundation and do a build estimated at $100,000,” said Jones. The bureau has asked Hobson to do the rebuild.
Now that the IB Arts Bureau will be a non-profit, it hopes receive funds from the county and the city for the projects.