ESCONDIDO — At its July 8 meeting, the Escondido Public Art Commission discussed plans to boost volunteer efforts at the Queen Califia’s Magical Circle public art display in Kit Carson Park. The Commission also deliberated about the status of its planned murals program rollout plan, as well as vandalism done to a public art piece along Escondido Boulevard.
Danielle Lopez, assistant director of community services for the city of Escondido, said that she had been doing research on other city programs since the murals program had received discussion at the last Public Art Commission meeting. Those included programs in places such as El Paso, Texas and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“We’re also trying to incorporate the policies the city already has in place, so it’s become a bit of a larger project than I had originally anticipated,” said Lopez. “But, I hope by our October meeting we will have a document that is complete and ready to go.”
Because the Public Art Commission can only meet formally once every three months under city law, Public Art Commission member Ana Marie Velasco raised the prospect of forming an ad hoc committee on public murals to allow for more frequent meetings and discussions about the murals program.
“Now, in order for form that we need to be less than a quorum. I think it’s the only requirement that I read, in addition to it needing to be public and announced” said Velasco. “But then, we could meet as much as we want between now and October, specifically on murals.”
Lopez questioned what an ad hoc group could meet about if no policy is in place yet for the murals. But Velasco responded by rattling off a list of things that she believed such a group could still discuss.
“Well, for example we have to define the area that we’re talking about that needs to be defined,” said Velasco. “And then second, we need to actually define the spaces of the murals on the walls that we see within this area … At least start setting down specifics and start moving forward because once we identify certain walls and spaces, then we know which businesses we may have to address to see if they in the future would be interested in financing the mural.”
Lopez suggested, instead, waiting until city staff had finished their research report on other cities’ mural programs before forging ahead with an ad hoc committee.
“I think the way I see it working is we’ll have the document and send it out to the entire commission for review once we have a pretty solid draft,” said Lopez. “And then at that time, that’s where you’d give me your comments about adding boundaries, locations, things of that nature. And then it could be on the next agenda to discuss in detail.”
Lopez later highlighted the city’s efforts to boost volunteer numbers at the Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, which have centered around online and social media outreach. She also said that the city has beefed up security efforts around Queen Califia in the aftermath of vandalism incidents.
“The cameras are up and functioning and everything is done as far as that goes,” said Lopez. “Public Works will be going in to trim some of the trees so that our visibility is better, but those cameras that are set up there go straight into our police dispatch center. But we’re up and running and knock on wood, we don’t need them, but the project is complete.”
Lopez then pointed to another public art piece in need of repair due to vandalism. Called “Pillars of the Community,” it is by Wick Alexander and sits on Escondido Boulevard.
“Wick, the artist who made those, has picked them up from the yard and has them in his home now,” said Lopez. “He is assessing the damage. He said it’s going to take quite a while because a lot of the materials he used to create these pieces are from faraway lands and he doesn’t even know if he can get them.”
Public Art Commission member Marty Tiedeman said she thinks the damage done to “Pillars of the Community,” and the repairs now needed, could serve as an opportunity to tell the story of the art piece in a way paralleling Queen Califia’s Magical Circle. Queen Califa recently was featured in a 15-minute news segment by the ABC affiliate Channel 10.
The nine pillars in Alexander’s art piece “each reflect the personality of the neighborhoods, each one unique,” according to a description of the project published by Americans for the Arts.st
Photo Caption: Residents attend a sculpture exhibit at Escondido’s Kit Carson Park in 2015. The city is currently deliberating a way to roll out a new murals program. File photo