The Making of a Mural

The Making of a Mural

Creating the Cardiff Arts Coalition (CAC) to support public art and local artists in Cardiff-by-the Sea was the brainchild of former Executive Director, Annika Walden and Assistant Director, Natalie Suggs.  When I took over the reigns I was very excited to get things kicked off. Local artist, Skye Walker, joined Cardiff 101 Board Members Mallory Morgan and Teresa Barth and Natalie Suggs on the CAC and our first task was to identify a contiguous and walkable Cardiff-by-the-Sea Cultural Arts District. Seeing a lack of connectivity and cohesiveness in Cardiff we thought it was best to have the Cultural Arts District encircle the community running from Birmingham south on San Elijo then east up Chesterfield and north along Newcastle and back down Birmingham.  Within our proposed Cultural Arts District we have a current and future gathering space; Cardiff Town Center and Seaside Harbaugh Parkway, as well as existing murals, SDGE Utility of Art painted transformer boxes, the historical Cardiff Mercantile Building and our Cultural Center; the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library.


Shortly after the district was defined we received approval for funds from the City of Encinitas Mizel Family Foundation Grant program and we hit the ground running! I had the ambitious goal of getting 3 murals up on Cardiff with the funds…. Little did I know how hard this would be to achieve. Natalie and Skye went through the building inventory in Cardiff and identified wall space that fell under our guidelines for a mural, which includes; visibility, located in the Cultural Arts District and quality/longevity of the building material.  The CAC began to pursue the property owners of the identified wall space and we were met with many hurdles we didn’t anticipate an unfortunately no interested property owners. During that time Bill Combs, who serves on the Board and Chairs the Economic Development Committee introduced me to the property owner of 2121 Newcastle, Adam Robinson, who had just begun rehabilitation of this property. When I mentioned Cardiff 101 Main Street’s goal to activate and revitalize Newcastle into a thriving social and economic region, this really resonated with Adam. As a person who appreciates the impacts that art can have and how important it is to invest in projects that both stimulate the local economy but also give back to the community Adam not only “got” our vision but was willing to help support making it happen! Since his property fit squarely in our defined Cultural Arts District this was the perfect location for our first mural.  


After this connection was made the CAC expanded to include Cardiff resident and water color artist Sharon Belknap, long time Cardiff resident and mosaic artist Lynn Adams, Bump Coffee co-owner and Cardiff 101 Board Member, Trevor Mertens and Cardiff 101 Board Treasurer Trish Hilder who stepped into the role of Chair.  Trish worked with the CAC to select 7 artists from the group’s curated list of local artist to present to Adam.  Adam chose his top 3 artist and those artist presented proposals for review and the final artist piece as selected. “Evening Gold” a collaborative piece presented by Cardiff Artist Skye Walker, was originally a photo taken by legendary surf photographer Todd Glaser of celebrity pro-surfer and Cardiff local Rob Machado surfing at Cardiff Reef.


"We wanted to do something special because Cardiff doesn't really have a downtown. It has a loop," Adam said. "This corner wasn't activated really well. I had no idea what we wanted to do here exactly. I just knew we wanted to do something. When Cardiff 101 presented us with Skye's work, we thought it was more than perfect."

We may not have gotten 3 murals up in Cardiff in our first year but we got one massive mural that really resonates with the community and highlights the local talent that was bred right here in Cardiff! This mural will be the catalyst for change in the area and we anticipate it will encourage more property owners to consider murals and art projects on their property, it will help to define the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Cultural Arts District and be a first step to revitalize Newcastle Avenue into a more vibrant, walkable, social and thriving economic district. Public art has been shown to enliven areas, attract foot traffic and support place making initiatives. Arts and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand in many cities and Cardiff-by-the-Sea is no different! We are so thankful for the City Encinitas Mizel Family Foundation Grant program for funds to support this project and for Adam Robinson, RAF Pacific, for their generous donation to support the cost of this mural!

"Murals lift up any community. Obviously, there are so many different ways to do murals and different kinds, but when you engage the community with public art, it just really inspires people and gets them interested. It drives communities in a way that nothing else does." – Evening Gold artist Skye Walker.

"My passion for Chairing the Arts Coalition comes from how much I’ve seen communities change, become safer, and bring people together when public art is displayed.  All of the research on public art and how it adds to a vibrant community is astounding and I’m honored to be a part of that in Cardiff." - Trisha Hilder Chair of Cardiff Arts Coalition.

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Author: Roberta Walker

June 1st, 2018