The Coast News Group
Several potential bidders inspect the banners during the Arts Alive Banner Auction May 20. Photo by Wehtahnah Tucker

Art banner auction creates excitement and raises funds

ENCINITAS — Bids were flying fast and furious at the 13th annual Arts Alive banner auction on May 20. Just shy of the typical 101 pieces of art, banners with various themes and styles hung from the railings at the Cardiff Town Center as artists joined friends, family and art enthusiasts for the ceremony.

The event kicked off with an unveiling of a banner depicting the likeness of the late City Council member Maggie Houlihan who died Sept. 16. Danny Salzhandler, coordinator of the project, said the quality of art was remarkable. “It just gets better and better every year,” he said.

Ian Thompson unveils a banner with his wife's image as a tribute to the late City Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan to kick off the 13th annual Arts Alive Banner Auction May 20. Photo by Wehtahnah Tucker

The bidders agreed as evidenced by the high prices paid for many of the banners. Gene Hunner was so impressed he ended up purchasing 17 of the banners. The Carmel Valley resident started buying the banners last year to decorate his home office. “I like to rotate them,” he said. “It’s just a unique form of art.”

The banners hung from the city’s light posts along Coast Highway from La Costa Avenue to Cardiff’s restaurant row beginning in February.

The Arts Alive banner exhibit is a joint effort by the 101 Artists Colony, the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association, Cardiff 101 Mainstreet and Leucadia Mainstreet.

Bill Fairchild, an Encinitas resident purchased several banners at the auction and was often in a bidding duel with Hunner. “He got a few we wanted,” he said. “But I’ve got 18 and there’s always next year.”

While more than a few of the banners depicted Houlihan and her larger-than-life persona, several represented other aspects of the local character.

Local artist Bre Custodio’s untitled banner depicting a curling wave sold for $780. “I knew it had a decent bid already,” she said. “But I had no idea it would go for that much; I was just hoping for $500.”

“That was the best barrel of my life,” Custodio said.

Like a few other artists, Custodio plans to donate a potion of the proceeds from the sale of her banner.

“I have a friend who has been traveling the world helping communities,” she said. “She’s setting up a shark preserve now in the Cook Islands.” Custodio also hopes the banner will raise people’s consciousness about water issues.

“My friend is an endless source of inspiration, she’s given the past three years to tackling environmental issues and hopefully this will help a little to keep her going,” she said.

Conceived in 2000, the banner program has been adapted in various cities across the country. UCSD Health System, Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas and Seaside Market are program sponsors of the banner program this year. Proceeds from the sale of banners will be split in half between the artists and either the 101 Artists’ Colony, Cardiff 101 MainStreet or Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association.

A few banners are still for sale and can be purchased by calling (760) 943-1950 or visiting