ENCINITAS — A liquor store might be the last place you’d expect to see public art, yet both the north and south walls of Leucadia’s Royal Liquor are adorned with bright, colorful murals designed to complement the community’s vibrant reputation.
“You want to keep Leucadia funky,” Skye Walker, the artist who painted the mural in 2015, said. “It was about including nature and the ocean, and having some Zen qualities like the mandala.”
On Aug. 25, this mural will be replaced by a new “funkier” one that Walker will create with fellow local artist Mark Warren at the 15th annual LeucadiART Walk. While Walker’s mural on the north wall of Royal Liquor is a mainstay in the neighborhood, he says his piece on the south wall is ready to be reinvented.
“I think this piece has lived its life,” Walker said. “I could touch it up, but to integrate another artist and to collaborate and bring something new to the community — it’s healthy.”
The piece will also serve as the last stop on Walker’s 14-month coast-to-coast tour, a journey that brought him across the country to paint various murals. After returning to Cardiff, where he’s lived for 19 years, Walker already knew he wanted to work with Warren on the final piece. Although the two had never met in person, they were familiar with each other’s art, and had been talking about a collaboration. When Walker realized LeucadiART Walk was coming up, he saw it as the perfect opportunity to end his cross-country tour and work with Warren.
“The funkiness is going to come from the collaboration,” Walker said. “We could be in the middle of it and say, ‘dude, what do you think if we do this or that?’ There are little surprises that show up that we can’t even plan for.”
The new mural will blend the two styles, which, while similar in some ways, have distinct differences. Walker leans toward more shading and depth, while Warren goes with a cleaner style.
“I grew up doing graffiti and skateboarding and snowboarding, so there’s street culture in it too,” Warren said.
On a warm sunny day about a week before the event, Walker and Warren squint behind their shades at the colorful south wall of Royal Liquor, sizing up their canvas. You can see the wheels turning with every glance — they’ve already shared a few doodles of the finished product, but they aren’t revealing anything definite in case that design changes. They shared that the new design should incorporate the ocean while also reflecting the Leucadia lifestyle. At the end of the day, Warren says, this piece is intended for the public.
“It’s not in the typical, turn-your-nose-up and go into a white-walled art gallery where the prices are so high,” Warren said. “The admission to a mural is free.”
The project’s main support is coming from Leucadia 101, since it is the host of the LeucadiART Walk. Royal Liquor is lending the wall, and Vuori Clothing in Encinitas is sponsoring both artists as they create the mural — a process that the guys have begun already so that they are painting by the time of the event. According to Warren, the best thing about public murals like this one is the opportunity for engagement both during creation and after completion.
“Public wall art is larger than life,” Walker said. “You’re taking photos with it, you can stand in front of it and you can be enveloped in it. It’s cool to see smaller pieces, but when the art is big, you feel like really engage with it.
Walker and Warren will pick up the spray paint and brushes to complete the mural at Royal Liquor on Highway 101 for the 15th annual LeucadiART Walk on Sunday, Aug. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Photo Caption: A mural on the north wall of Royal Liquor is visible from the road and has become an icon in the Leucadia community. The ocean waves and Mother Nature figure are popular themes in the work of artist Skye Walker, who will collaborate with Mark Warren to bring another mural to life on the south wall during the LeucadiART Walk. Photo by Kelli Kyle