OCEANSIDE — Thirteen colorful banners now brighten up Coast Highway 101 from Wisconsin Street north to Neptune Way. The banners are hand-painted by juried in North County artists, who were each given a 3-foot-by-7-foot banner and no restrictions on what to paint.
“It’s a venue for artists to express their own style and their own subject matter,” Eugenia Bizzaro, Oceanside Arts Commission vice chairwoman, said.
The competition brought out some exceptional local talent. “This year there was more professional art with higher standards of craftsmanship and composition,” Bizzaro said.
Half of the artists who entered their work were competing in the banner competition for the first time. Artists ranged in age from teenagers to seniors and painting styles stretched from California impressionism to pop art. “We furnished the banners, they furnished the talent,” Bizzaro said.
Imelda Arroyo won $500 for the first-place entry “Take Pride in Oceanside.” Joey Chavez won $250 for the second-place entry “Adriana 2” and Cheryl Ehlers won $100 for the third place entry “The Monarchs Return.”
Cheryl Ehlers said her banner design, “The Monarchs Return,” was inspired by her friend’s collection of Guatemalan butterflies. Ehlers said the butterfly collection reminded her of the heavy migration of monarch butterflies that used to make their way through North County. “Monarchs used to come in clouds,” Ehlers said. “How nice it would be to bring them back.”
Joey Chavez got his design inspiration closer to home. “My banner is my wife,” Chavez said. “Every banner I’m going to do every year is going to be her.”
The banners will deck Coast Highway 101 through Oct. 1. Then they will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Oceanside Arts Commission.
This year’s banner auction is a critical fundraiser for the Arts Commission, which no longer receives an annual $25,000 grant from the city. The commission is seeking support from residents, businesses and area art lovers to help fund events that promote art tourism. The Arts Commission organizes the banner competition, free summer concerts, sculpture competition, community stage performances, and Oceanside elementary schools’ Stardust Arts Program. The hope is donations will allow community art events to continue.