ESCONDIDO — Inspired by his Mexican roots and family, Escondido native Aled Anaya said he’s been an artist for as long as he can remember. Anaya, 28, said he recalls his childhood being filled with outings that galvanized his craft, many of which can be viewed around San Diego County today.
“I’ve always enjoyed creating and working with my hands,” said Anaya, now a professional muralist and teacher at Orange Glen High School in Escondido. “I was inspired by frequent trips to visit family in Mexico, skate and graffiti culture.”
Anaya’s murals are now on permanent display in areas such as the city of San Diego’s Chicano Park, Del Lago Academy in Escondido and at Orange Glen High School. In recent weeks, Anaya’s 20-by-16 mural of a vibrant butterfly became available for viewing at the popular San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido as well.
“My goal with the mural at the museum is to provide the wonderful community of Escondido with an inviting image representative of the colorful nature of the museum and our fellow community members,” Anaya said. “The inspiration behind my work stems from my Mexican culture, my community, and family upbringing. I strive to capture these influences in most of my work.”
Wendy Taylor, executive director for the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, said the public response to Anaya’s work has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The response has been wonderful,” Taylor said. “The mural is mounted on an art wall that was installed in front of a historic tile mosaic on our building. The tile mosaic honors the Battle of San Pasqual, and it still exists behind the art wall. For many years, the community enjoyed the historic mosaic, and the community is excited to experience a new piece of art across from Grape Day Park.”
Despite Anaya’s rich talent as a muralist, the now educator said his skills did not develop overnight.
“As a high school student I enrolled in the printing and graphics program — the same class that I now teach at Orange Glen High School,” Anaya said. “That high school graphic design course was the foundation in graphic design software and screenprinting skills I would need to get my career started as an artist.”
Anaya, who previously worked in the printing and graphics industry, also credits his experience to art classes he took at Palomar College in San Marcos.
Today, the Escondido high school teacher hopes to give the next generation of students the tools they’ll need to pursue their artistic dreams.
“My goal with every new group of students and artists is to empower them through the creative process,” Anaya said. “There is a huge benefit to youth being able to comfortably express themselves creatively without fear.”
Taylor said Anaya’s work contributes to the museum’s overall mission to inspire children to “learn about our world through exploration, imagination and experimentation.”
“Aled’s whimsical imagery captures the playful essence of our museum, and invites the viewer to come inside to explore, imagine and experiment through play,” Taylor said. “The artwork also captures the local landscape of our home, Escondido, and honors the land we all share.”
Anaya’s artwork also kicks off an upcoming art competition the museum plans to host in celebration of its 20th anniversary. The museum will host the competition in partnership with the Del Lago Academy and will feature a student’s winning art on the wall next spring, Taylor said.
For now, Taylor and Anaya both hope all people who come across the spirited mural in Escondido will be energized.
“I hope to continue teaching and help bring forth new public art projects for the community of Escondido,” Anaya said. “My hope is that people can connect in some way and relate to my artwork.”
For more information about Aled Anaya or to view his work, follow him on Instagram at @aledthewonderbread. For more information about the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, go to sdcdm.org.