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Students create 18 mosaics for Santa Fe Drive underpass

ENCINITAS — The mosaics that will line the Santa Fe Drive underpass by later this year will have a youthful touch.

The Encinitas Arts Commission has recommended the first group of mosaics that will fill 48 of the 53 spaces available along the walls of the underpass, which are part of a multi-million dollar overhaul of the Santa Fe Drive-Interstate 5 undercrossing.

Every one of the pieces will have a student involved in one way or another. 

Students were the lead artists on 18 of the 48 pieces, and for the remaining pieces, at least one youth was part of the team that designed or fabricated the mosaic.

“What is unique about this project from the start was the insistence of the council subcommittee that youth be involved in each of the mosaics,” City Arts Administrator Jim Gilliam said. “So youth will be involved in each of the mosaics for the undercrossing, which I think is excellent.”

Artists and their teams were to design pieces to fit the theme “Encinitas Up Close.” 

Images of poinsettias, Swami’s Beach, Woody wagons, lobster and flowers and fish were among the submissions approved for council approval by the Arts Commission.

Three youth or youth groups each designed two pieces: Jeremy Wright, Lucy Stefanko and the team of Micah and Evan Sandoval will each have a pair of mosaics in the inset spaces.

Morgan McGrath, Gillian Shaver, Luke Sanson, Kendall Landwehr, Isla Rindt, B. Denslow, Fiona Saunders, Sydney Evans, Ruby Fox, Jessica Imaz Horton, Layla Gunn and Jordyn Hartman were the other youth listed as principal artists.

The arts commission still has to make a final recommendation for the five final arts pieces before the City Council votes on the recommendations in late March. 

City officials expect fabrication of the mosaics will begin early next year and be installed by next summer. 

The City Council in June approved the $192,567 budget addition to pay for the project, which included $37,100 — or $700 per each mosaic — at Santa Fe and $155,46 for professionally made mosaics along four so-called “ground anchor walls,” placed at the on- and off-ramps of Encinitas Blvd. 

Caltrans’ overhaul of the two underpasses is expected to be completed by late 2019, and will include the creation of space for bike lanes and sidewalks at both freeway intersections.