Above: A new mural in Solana Beach reflects the city’s charm and beach vibes. Cardiff artist Dustin (Brane) Hull completed the piece in time for this year’s Fiesta Del Sol. Photo by Lexy Brodt
SOLANA BEACH — Turn the corner at Solana Beach’s Saddle Bar tavern and you might notice something different: something a little (a lot) bolder and brighter than your typical beach town aesthetic.
An approximately 50-foot mural has taken over the once gray and unremarkable side street running behind the city’s Distillery Lot, just east of Fletcher Cove. The colors are something to behold: blue, purple, pink and yellow bringing life to the local bar’s exterior wall.
The work reflects the city’s best, the places and features that make Solana Beach so charming to residents and visitors: the Belly Up, Fiesta Del Sol, Fletcher Cove Beach Park and the historic Highway 101.
The mural, painted by Cardiff artist Dustin (Brane) Hull, was completed in just over two weeks. But according to Hull, the mural’s planning and conception lasted much longer — at least a year.
The initial idea started with the Saddle Bar. One of the tavern’s four owners approached Hull after seeing his artwork — which is distinctly bold and colorful (“I’m a color freak,” he says).
Hull jumped on the idea and the ball started rolling.
After the bar’s other three owners approved the idea of a mural, Solana Beach’s Chamber of Commerce wanted to get involved. To commemorate the 40th year of the city’s Fiesta Del Sol, an outdoor music and arts festival, the chamber helped fund the mural and get it going in time for the event.
“We wanted everyone to see it,” said Maryam Hintzen, the CEO of the city’s Chamber of Commerce.
Hull, who surfs by morning, works in the trades by day and plays in a local band by night, mostly produces acrylic, oil, pen and ink pieces. He has done a few moderately sized murals — his colorful beach scenes can be seen in Pacific Beach.
However, at about 20 feet high, the Solana Beach mural is one of his most ambitious artistic projects yet.
Hull worked seven hours a day for about 15 days in order to bring the mural to life. Due to the original color of the wall — a charcoal gray — he had to prime the surface three times and coat each color several times apiece, in addition to repairing parts of the wall.
Hull said it came down to a bit of a time crunch — but in the end?
“People really loved it,” he said. “It brightens up that whole street.”
He said people were initially shocked by the lively colors as he was painting the piece, and he had to assure them that the final result would be worth the wait.
Even now, Hull said the piece is still a work in progress — “there’s a little bit of space to play with,” he said.
“It will evolve, and I like that,” he said, adding that he might add elements relating to the Del Mar Racetrack. “It will morph and change.”
Lexy Brodt covers all things Del Mar and Solana Beach for The Coast News, with a primary interest in coastal development. A North County native turned UW-Madison alumna, she has produced for Wisconsin Public Radio and reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Wisconsin State Journal.