Give Thanks

Residents and visitors to La Jolla Shores have a new reason to be thankful (in addition to the break from on-street construction starting on Memorial Day). They just received the newest mural in the Murals of La Jolla public art program “Demos Gracias” (“give thanks”) which went up April 4 at Galaxy Taco, 2259 Avenida de la Playa. I was created by Los Angeles-based artist Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia.

It is the first and only mural of the 16 existing ones currently on view throughout La Jolla to be located in the Shores.

“We’re excited about having a presence in The Shores,” said Murals of La Jolla curator Lynda Forsha. “Lorenzo’s unique style and perspective brings a new energy and character to the site and his image connects perfectly with the building’s tenant, Galaxy Taco. Lorenzo’s work is vibrant and optimistic. The brightly colored Papel Picado (paper banners with designs cut into them) and sunburst in the image pay homage to Mexican Folk Art and signal special occasions and celebration.”

Initiated by the La Jolla Community Foundation, Murals of La Jolla is now a project under the auspices of the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library. The art works are funded by private donations.

“The theme of the mural is Thanksgiving and I thought a restaurant — where friends and family gather to break bread — was a good setting for the piece,” artist Segovia told La Jolla Light. “And I deliberately gave it a Spanish title. Most of my pieces are titled are in Spanish because I’m from Mexico and it goes against the grain of English being the language of the art world.”

With golden rays that radiate throughout the mural and a brightly colored background, the image is of three strings of Mexican paper flags with patterns or words on them.

For example, one flag has the word “Por” (Spanish for “for”) and the word “Amor” (Spanish for “love”) another has the word “Gracias” (Spanish for “thanks”).

“I wanted to create an image … that when you see from the front, the eye will sweep across in an upward motion to look up into the heavens. It signals hope and goodness,” he said. “Without being a dogmatic mural that enforces any one type of belief, eating food with friends and family is something to be grateful for. So the words on the Papel Picado are meant to be little prayers (and thanks) sent up to the heavens.”

Starting with hand-drawings, Segovia said the piece has evolved since January, and the finished product is the largest piece he has ever done. “I wanted to make something new and unique for this occasion,” he said.

Known for his sculptures, drawings, paintings and textile-work, Segovia’s most recognizable works are painted pieces of paper cut into strips and weaved into different configurations.

Having grown up outside of Juarez, Mexico, Segovia said he always saw people making things with their hands. “People would make or constantly repair items in their homes or their clothing, so making was a big part of my formative years. But I didn’t think of it as art.”

Learning from those around him, Segovia became skilled in making things by hand and designing household items. Deciding to become an engineer, he came to the United States to get a degree, thanks largely to a full scholarship.

One elective shy of completing his studies, which he joked he “had been putting off” until the very end, he took a drawing class. “It changed me. Something clicked. In drawing and art in general, one could have grandiose and abstract ideas and have immediate results by taking material to surface. It opened a lot of possibilities,” he said. Segovia transferred to UCLA where he received an undergraduate degree in art, and later to Otis College of Art and Design for a master’s degree.

“Art is really open and it can be liberating, but there is a lot of pressure to do something that goes beyond initial curiosity to be developed into a reached body of work and a reached thought. That’s the magical part. Something can be so simple, but become so special,” Segovia said. “I also think the public engagement aspect is great and I’m glad to be part of it by participating in the Murals of La Jolla program.”

ON THE WEB: For more information on the Murals of La Jolla, visit muralsoflajolla.com

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