ESCONDIDO — The Beautify Escondido Mural Project in downtown Escondido wrapped up just in time for the city’s Second Saturday Art Walk.
The white, concrete barriers along Grand Ave. served as the unexpected canvas for the project, which was led by the Escondido Art Association (EAA).
Back in July, the City of Escondido expanded outdoor dining by reducing travel lanes on a few streets and placing roughly 100 concrete barriers, acquired through CARES Act funding, throughout the area to mark the new boundaries.
A few months ago, Suzanne Nicolaisen and Jinx Lennon, two members of the EAA, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the arts and the community since 1956, decided to paint the barriers outside of the EAA’s Artists Gallery.
Soon, other business owners in the area began to ask the two artists to paint their barriers, and thus, a movement was born.
Carrie Foster, current president of the EAA, told The Coast News that eventually volunteers, people from the community, local artists and business owners began painting the barriers throughout Grand Ave.
“I got to know a lot of the folks out there, and I think, under such weird circumstances that are going on, it really has brightened people’s moods up a lot,” Foster said. “I’ve had so many people stop by just to thank us for making it more positive and more uplifting.”
Foster said that the hundreds of hours it took to paint all 100 of those barriers were all on a volunteer basis.
“It wasn’t about commercializing anything; it was about getting everyone involved. Everyone in the community came out and pulled together to make this uncertain situation 10 times better,” Foster said.
Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s deputy director of the economic development office, also said that there has been overwhelming support from the community.
“The community has seen just how beautiful this whole movement has been. These started as dull-looking barriers, but the art community really took it and ran with it,” Tarrac said. “It’s been an extraordinary effort with amazing volunteers – locals that have grown up in Escondido have volunteered so much of their time to pull this off.”
Tarrac said that the Downtown Business Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Escondido and Escondido Shines also participated in the movement as supporters and donors.