VISTA — Public art is becoming more popular throughout the region.
But Vista has been leading the way since the early 2000s, as more than 80 pieces dot downtown, public parks and the walls of buildings.
And on Aug. 13, the City Council approved the latest installment, dubbed “Long Live Vista! — ¡Viva Vista!” by resident Kim Cruz. Cruz will paint the mural on the outside wall at 350 E. Broadway in downtown.
“I based the concept design on Loteriá, a Mexican bingo game,” she said. “There is an image and the image’s name is in Spanish at the bottom of the card. I’ve taken that design concept and replaced some of the images with things that depict Vista.”
Cruz’s mural consists of nine features showcasing Vista’s history, from an avocado and strawberry to adobe architecture and a local theater. Each will be highlighted like a playing card in Spanish, also a nod to the city’s Mexican culture.
It’s her first commissioned public art piece after the Vista Arts Commission approved the mural in June. Cruz has volunteered on other murals in the city, but this one is hers.
She said she will begin Labor Day weekend and expects to be finished by Sept. 7 or Sept. 8.
“This opportunity came up and I just took it one step at a time,” Cruz said. “I’m excited about this opportunity and location. This has been a dream of mine, to do a public mural.”
For as long as she can remember, Cruz has always been drawn to art. As her skills grew, so did her confidence and she had her first gallery showing in 2005.
Her range is vast as she has dabbled in print making, sketching and painting, among other styles.
“I’m just really excited to be a part of the public art in Vista,” Cruz said. “Art is growing. I think it adds a vibrancy to the city and I’m excited to add my artwork to what’s out there.”
One source of inspiration and mentoring has been Cruz’s experience through the Backfence Society, a Vista nonprofit of artists working collaboratively to produce interactive art events, according to its website.
“I think as artists, we can support each other by encouraging and keeping these opportunities moving,” Cruz said. “I would encourage people to go for it.”
As for the city, it releases a call for artists for a project and a 30-day public notice for a mural. The artist will present their concept to the arts commission, and if approved, go before the City Council for final approval, according to Andrea McCullough, Vista’s communication director.
The city doesn’t earmark funds for the murals, instead requesting the arts fund the project on their own or through other sources. Vista has been a hotspot for public art displays for nearly 20 years.
The city features Kites Over Vista, murals and sculptures to go along with eight venues showcasing the arts.
“She approached the city with a proposal,” McCullough said of Cruz. “The commission debates the merits and what they like and feel about an art piece.”
Photo Caption: Vista resident Kim Cruz’s piece “Long Live Vista! — ¡Viva Vista!” was approved by the Vista City Council Aug. 13. Cruz’s mural will be at 350 E. Broadway. Courtesy of Kim Cruz