Time to cruise down coastal highway gallery

It’s that time of year again. Time to cruise six miles of Coast Highway 101 between Cardiff and Leucadia to choose your favorites from an array of Arts Alive banners painted by some of Encinitas’ best-known artists.Now in its 13th year, the Arts Alive banner project’s 2012 season had a rather rough start with much political controversy. Through persistent efforts of a few key people, the project has continued on schedule. As a result, 98 original works of art are on display along Pacific Coast Highway for the community to enjoy.

Artist Bob Hord’s "Mojo's Green Tambourine."

The public has little notion of all that is required behind the scenes of this annual event. Danny Salzhandler, director of the project since its inception in 2000, describes it as “a nine-month ordeal, like having a baby.”

Salzhandler is involved in each phase of the project, from inviting artists to participate as early as September each year, to the final live auction, which is scheduled this year to take place May 20 in the courtyard of Cardiff Town Center.

Two of the long-time contributors to Arts Alive are artists Mary Fleener and Bob Hord, whose lives are as colorful as their banner artwork.

Near the front of Honey’s, a favorite breakfast spot of Encinitas locals, you can find Mary Fleener’s “Haute Felines.” With a 1950’s futuristic “Jetsons” feel, “Haute Felines” is an example of one of her many artistic styles.
Fleener has no fear of crossing boundaries in many areas of creativity. In addition to her work as a painter and ceramic artist, she has published comic books, is currently working on a graphic novel, and plays in a band called “The Wigbillies.”

Artist Mary Fleener’s “Haute Felines.” Courtesy photos

If you continue further south along PCH, you will find Bob Hord’s banner “Mojo’s Green Tambourine” in front of the San Tropez Bakery in the Lumberyard. Originally from Miami, Hord received his training as a commercial artist at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida and at Kansas City Art Institute.

His career began with Hallmark, where he developed his art of precise paper sculpture and has indeed raised it to a fine art. “Extraordinary” is a word that is often used in reference to his paintings, paper sculptures, and mixed media sculptures. Also involved in making cigar box guitars, he attributes his inspiration to the absurdities of day-to-day life, which is evident in his ingenious artwork.

An additional ninety-six artists have painted banners for this year’s event, which are listed in the banner auction catalog available at the office of the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association.

Silent bids can be placed by phone through the DEMA office at (760) 943-1950, until the final bids are accepted at the live auction May 20 in the courtyard of Cardiff Town Center.

Be sure to mark your calendar and be there to support the arts in Encinitas.

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