It’s not everyday that you get to write or paint on a city wall. But lots of people were doing exactly that last weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday, when everyone who wanted to leave their own personal mark was allowed to do so. It all happened behind the Sports Park’s building where the entire wall measuring over 1,000 feet was first painted in large letters with the words “We Are IB” with an outline of the pier by IB Arts Bureau (IBAB) volunteers.
Last weekend, May 15 and 16, the public was invited to personalize it by signing it, putting handprints, drawing and writing words. A table with supplies staffed by volunteers provided materials such as paint and markers. Kids, adults and even a dog left their mark on the wall with messages of love.
This mural is one of five that were recently painted in Imperial Beach in different parts of town with the theme of love and kindness. This project was funded by the Kreutzkamp Foundation and artists from Imperial Beach and San Diego County who painted murals with the help of IBAB volunteers.
David Frink of IBAB and other volunteers present at the mural event on Saturday were thrilled at the amount of people who stopped by to sign the wall.
Frink explained that the idea of the “We Are IB” mural was spurred by some conflict going on between two groups. “We can’t solve the problem, but if people work side by side and cooperate together, it’s the first step,” he said. “This seemed appropriate as a binder; we’re not trying to make a statement except that we’re a community. This is who we are. This accomplishes the theme that we can get along together. Together we can make something beautiful.”
As part of this project, a film crew from Articulus Entertainment filmed the making of the murals and the residents writing on the wall of Sports Park to be included in a documentary entitled “A Case for Kindness,” which should air this summer.
Documentary director Steven Sawalich was at the wall with his crew filming kids and families leaving their mark. He explained the documentary is about kindness and its impact on ourselves and the community. The documentary goes into the different aspects of being kind, including the impact on health and racial justice. “It’s seen through the lens of justice,” he said.
Recently the city of Imperial Beach was declared a city of kindness by the city council. When Sawalich found out about Imperial Beach, he and his crew came over to film. “It’s the beginning of a city becoming kind,” he said. This idea of kindness on a large scale started in Anaheim where city schools pledged to do 1 million acts of kindness. Sawalich said that kindness in school children led to increased attendance and the number of detentions going down.
Sawalich had never visited Imperial Beach before and was impressed with the murals and the push to create a parks and recreation department to bring people together.
“It’s been great to see kids laugh and smile and willing to be a part of it,” he said of the Sports Park event. Sawalich said the crew was going to film the bike ride the next day and he was looking forward to seeing the town come together. He believes that if everyone implements kindness in their daily lives, the impact will be evident in the community.
Paulette Madrigal was at the wall with her two boys and the trio was getting ready to put their handprints on the wall. “I live down the street and come to the park all the time…I saw the mural being painted…It’s unifying the community and represents all the children, the diversity. I was born and raised here and now my kids will grow here and will have their handprints here,” she said.
Mayor Serge Dedina was also at the wall talking to residents as they stopped by to say hello. “[Kindness] is a commitment I made in the State of the City address to invest in community and bring kindness and people together,” he said.
Dedina said he was happy to see the skateboarders, kids on their bikes and those coming over after softball games. “Art brings people together and it’s unifying after last year,” he said. “It’s the kind of activity we want to promote for the rest of the year - community events that connect people.”
On Sunday a bike ride/meet the artists event was held. Participants met at the Latter Rain Ministries mural at 1 p.m. and biked to see each mural, finishing the ride at the Ebony Avenue and Seacoast Drive mural.
The five murals are located at the following locations:
IB Plaza (Latter Rain) at 750 13th Street (west wall) approximately 110’ x 20’ or 2,200 square feet. This mural will be painted by artist Carly Ealey and features hands holding a heart.
Veteran’s Park Restrooms at 1075 8th Street (south wall) approximately 42’ x 8’ or 336 square feet. This mural will be painted by Imperial Beach artist Isabella Anderson.
Sports Park Recreation Center at 425 Imperial Beach Boulevard (south wall) approximately 72’x 14’ or 1,008 square feet. This mural will feature words “We are IB” and will have a scene of the pier, the sea and sky.
Pacific Realty at 280 Palm Avenue (south face of fence wall) approximately 46’x6’ or 276 square feet. The mural will be painted by Marissa Quinn and will feature a woman surfing at sunset and dolphins jumping out of the water.
Imperial Beach Apartments at 1073 Seacoast Drive (north wall) approximately 30’x20’ or 600 square feet. This mural will be painted by Imperial Beach artist Michelle Lubin and features hands feeding a hummingbird and a butterfly.