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.
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.
Location: Above The Unoptical, corner of University Avenue and 10th Street in Hillcrest
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 (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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Persue, Monstrinho, Gloria Muriel: Corner of G Street and Park Boulevard
Location: 2196 Logan Ave., La Bodega Gallery (currently undergoing renovations)
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.
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.