A Brush with Art

Native Leucadian is staple in art community

Local artist Fred Caldwell is about as native as a Leucadian can be. He’s also about as creative as they come. Beginning as a first grader at Pacific View Elementary School, Fred was already hooked on art. At 10 he turned “pro” when a Del Mar couple purchased one of his seascapes for $1. He’s been creating artwork ever since.

Fred Caldwell’s art banner, “If Andy Knew Maggie, Like I Knew Maggie,” can be seen just south of La Costa Avenue. Courtesy photo
Since earning his art degree from Palomar College, Fred has received recognition in both graphic art and bronze foundry work. His classic Highway 101 shield, which hung along the coast for several years, received accolades, including the Save Our Heritage Organization’s “Cruising the Coast” award.

The handsome cast iron grates surrounding the base of each tree along the sidewalks of Highway 101 are Fred’s winning design for Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association’s StreetScape.

In 2004 Fred was granted a commission by North County Transit District for three Woody Bus designs, which delighted locals with his clever representation of the laid-back surf culture of Encinitas. The following year his bus designs won the National American Public Transportation Award. He reminisced, “For seven years the bus was quite a parade as it passed by my shop every day.”

His family’s shop Caldwell’s Antiques, which has been in the same location at 1234 N. Coast Highway 101 since founded by his father 50 years ago, is a treasure hunter’s paradise. Filled to the brim with rare objects, it’s a nostalgic wonderland.

While managing the family business, Fred has been deeply involved in his community. He was founding member of the Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association, a long-time board member of Leucadia Town Council, former president of Leucadia Merchants Association, and, in his own words, “an infrequent squeaky-wheel citizen at city hall meetings.”

Fred designs custom business cards, logos, postcards, brochures, photo retouching, bus wraps, banners, digital murals and special projects. His Local postcards, which portray the distinctive character of each of Encinitas’ five communities, are available at several local shops including Caldwell’s Antiques, and digitally at encinitaslive.com.

For the past several years Fred has enjoyed the success of his notable calendars, which developed out of a 2005 visit to the Maxfield Parrish exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art with late city councilwoman Maggie Houlihan. “Maggie was a really good friend of mine and big fan of the arts,” he said. “That trip inspired us to make a calendar, as close as I could get to a ‘Parrish’ style.” His first calendar was designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Encinitas city hood, which eventually led to creating the sought-after Cardiff “Kook” calendar.

Fred’s Arts Alive banner titled “If Andy Knew Maggie, Like I Knew Maggie,” located just south of La Costa Avenue, was digitally designed in the style of Andy Warhol to memorialize his friend Maggie Houlihan. He said, “Anyone who knew Maggie knew how colorful she could be.”

The entire Arts Alive 2012 banner auction catalog can be viewed online at artsaliveencinitas.com.

Kay Colvin is an art consultant and director of the L Street Fine Art Gallery in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. She specializes in promoting emerging and mid-career artists and bringing enrichment programs to elementary schools through The Kid’s College. Contact her at kaycolvin@lstreetfineart.com.