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Street art: Murals to explore in central San Diego area

Travel through the heart of San Diego and explore the vivid artwork of street art muralists.

Ready to be captivated, stunned, engaged, and full of awe? As our mural culture expands in San Diego, boring, soul-sucking taupe and grey walls become transformed into colorful (sometimes whimsical, often thought-provoking) art. If you’ve only ever casually driven or strolled by our array of murals throughout the city, now’s your chance to do your art penance and actually look at them.

Here is a checklist of murals to visit in central San Diego covering North Park, Hillcrest, University Heights, downtown San Diego and Barrio Logan. While the list isn’t nearly exhaustive, it should give you a good start on spurring your own mural adventures. So lace up your walking shoes and Instagram away (don’t forget to tag #PacificSD so we can follow your mural adventures).

North Park/Hillcrest/University Heights

Greetings from San Diego

Location: 4223 30th St., North Park, in the alley adjacent to Belching Beaver Brewery North Park

Artist: Greetings Tour (muralist Victor “Ving” Fung and photographer Lisa Beggs)

Lowdown: Known for their murals in cities nationwide, their San Diego work is the perfect spot for Instagram shots and Facebook posts to your international friends (mention @greetingstour). The mural features various aspects of the city; look for New York-based muralist Dave Persue’s well-known Bunny Kitty in the letter I.

Greetings from San Diego mural from the Greetings Tour’s muralist Victor “Ving” Fung and photographer Lisa Beggs. The mural is located on the side of Belching Beaver Brewery at 4223 30th St. in North Park. (Leslie Hackett)

 

CO2 Kills Mermaids

Location: 2977 Upas St., North Park, on the west side of Cardamom Cafe

Artist: Lauren YS

Lowdown: A beautiful and frightening harbinger image of what’s happening and what’s to come of our oceans with acidification and its magnificent (while albeit imaginary) sea life.

LaurenYS’s (pictured center) CO2 Kills Mermaids (part of Sea Walls Project, PangeaSeed) on the side of Cardamom Bakery in North Park. (Courtesy photo)

 

Untitled

Location: Above The Unoptical, corner of University Avenue and 10th Street in Hillcrest

Artist: Exist1981

Lowdown: Known for his captivating mural work on El Camino in Little Italy, Exist1981 creates a mandala-like image of geometric shape and color that will leave you transfixed and meditative.

Untitled mural by artist Exist1981 is located above The Unoptical on the corner of University and 10th avenues in Hillcrest. (Leslie Hackett)

 

Untitled (part of Sea Walls Project, PangeaSeed)

Location: 3804 Fourth Ave., Hillcrest

Artist: Jet Martinez

Lowdown: Known for his floral motifs, Mexican artist Martinez creates a beautiful and vibrant mural with intense color and impact. A commentary on pesticides and floriculture, the piece reminds us of the immense beauty that is to be lost with unsustainable practices.

 

Love Your H2O

Location: 4404 Park Blvd., University Heights

Artist: Gloria Muriel

Lowdown: This mesmerizing image is both beautiful and hypnotic. Gloria states, “Water is so precious and the source of all life. We must be aware of the statewide shortage and how to take better care for this natural resource. Love Water, Love Life. Save Water, Save Life.”

Gloria Muriel’s Love Your H2O (part of Sea Walls Project, PangeaSeed) in University Heights. (Courtesy photo)

 

Untitled

Location: 4441 Park Blvd., University Heights

Artist: Ian Ross

A serenely frightening piece, it’s quiet and lovely upon first glance, then it hits you. With the most recent news of coral bleaching and the death of the Great Barrier Reef, Ross’s work becomes all the more compelling.

Two more to hit on Park Boulevard: Other murals at Zombie Fortress (4441 Park Blvd.) are by Mexican muralist N30, and New Zealand artist Cinzah Merkens.

An untitled piece (part of Sea Walls Project, PangeaSeed) by Ian Ross in University Heights. (Laurie Delk)

 

Downtown and East Village

Don’t Believe the Hype

Location: South side of the Horton Plaza, G Street between Second and Third avenues, downtown

Artist: Os Gémeos

Lowdown: Brazilian duo Os Gémeos, (Portuguese for “The Twins”) painted the mural as part of a project by the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2010. In light of current political and social events, its subject matter remains as potent as ever.

Don’t Believe the Hype mural by Os Gemeos is painted on the south side of Horton Plaza downtown. (David Brooks/Union-Tribune)

 

Hunger

Location: 827 14th St., East Village

Artist: Fintan Magee

Lowdown: A magnificently rendered mural, Magee confronts overfishing, human/nature entanglement and our impact on natural resources. The Australian artist is known for large-scale human renderings in Rome, Ukraine, Norway and Portugal.

Hunger by Fintan Magee (part of Sea Walls Project, PangeaSeed) in East Village. (Laurie Delk)

 

Title Unknown

Artist: Honkey Kong

Location: E Street between 14th and 15th streets, East Village

Lowdown: Around the corner from Magee’s Hunger mural, find Honkey Kong’s whimsical rat painting scrunched in motion. Colorful and ostentatiously rude, its unapologetic style will no doubt induce a smile.

A mural by Honkey Kong in East Village. (Courtesy photo)

 

Other murals to explore near downtown

Dolan Stearns: 24 21st St. (corner of Commercial Street)

I Am Eelco: 24 21st St.

Exist1981: 1102 Market St.

Chris Konecki: 707 Broadway (Read a previous interview with Konecki and the Sea Walls Project, PangeaSeed here)

Persue, Monstrinho, Gloria Muriel: Corner of G Street and Park Boulevard

 

Barrio Logan

Freedom/Captivity

Location: 2196 Logan Ave., La Bodega Gallery (currently undergoing renovations)

Artists: Aaron Glasson and Celeste Byers

Lowdown: The prophetic mural displays the relationship of marine mammal captivity and commerce. Shortly after the mural was completed, legislation banning orca captivity and breeding, as well as the use of whales in entertainment was signed by the governor of California.

Freedom/Captivity mural ((part of Sea Walls Project, PangeaSeed) by Aaron Glasson and Celeste Byers. (Courtesy photo)

 

Chicano Park

Artists: Various

Lowdown: A vivid journey through Chicano history in San Diego, the park’s 20 murals radiate with themes ranging from spirituality and religion to politics and culture. The park recently was named a National Historical Landmark.

4 Comments

  1. Niko

    February 1, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Laurie most of these murals were curated by Cohort Collective for the Sea Walls project by Pangeaseed.
    Yet both of these groups was failed to be mentioned.
    Without their dedication to the arts these murals would not be a possibility for San Diego.
    ✌????????????

    • PACIFIC

      February 2, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      Niko, we appreciate your feedback. The story does link to an earlier interview Laurie Delk did with Chris Konecki about the Sea Walls Project, but to highlight their participation, we have gone in and added notes to all of the murals that were a part of the project. Thanks for your keen eye.

  2. Soni Lopez-Chavez

    February 6, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Great photos but La Bodega Gallery is not closed. We are renovating the space and have put a few shows on hold for now but the gallery is not closed.

    • PACIFIC

      February 7, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Thank you for your note. The story has been updated to reflect this.

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