Wall retrospective: Murals of La Jolla commemorates its first decade with first book

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Murals of La Jolla has published its first book to celebrate its first 10 years.

The Murals of La Jolla project has printed its first book to commemorate its first 10 years.

After 30 murals were installed in and around The Village, “we had this ah-ha moment when thinking about how best to celebrate our 10th anniversary,” said Murals of La Jolla Executive Director Lynda Forsha. “We liked the idea of 10 years and 30 murals, and we decided to do a book.”

The creation of the book was a “year-long process from conceptualization to final printing. We all saw it as a large-format book,” Forsha said, speaking of the Murals of La Jolla committee that oversaw the book’s formation. “[It] needed to be as visual as possible, because that’s how you experience the murals when you’re walking through The Village.”

Forsha said the 176-page Murals of La Jolla book runs in a chronology with “all the amazing photographs we have” from Philipp Scholz Rittermann, the project’s official murals photographer for the past decade.

It also includes a map of all the mural sites, along with an introduction by Forsha and an essay by art and design writer Susan Morgan, whom Murals of La Jolla commissioned to write about every artist and mural.

There are biographies of each of the 32 artists represented, Forsha said, as well as a history of La Jolla written by G. James Daichendt, a professor of art history at Point Loma Nazarene University, “in terms of what it takes to build a community that can foster this type of project.”

The cover of the book features John Baldessari’s 2011 “Brain/Cloud (with Seascape and Palm Tree),” which is still on view at 1250 Prospect St. “Many of us agreed it’s our most iconic mural,” Forsha said, “and it felt like it belonged on the cover.”

Baldessari died as the book was going to print, “so we dedicated the book to him.”

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The book includes several photos of each mural, most of which were taken by Philipp Scholz Rittermann.

Forsha said the book was a natural step for Murals of La Jolla. “What I love about having the book out there is that it connects the dots; a lot of people don’t know that the murals are all one project.”

Murals of La Jolla was founded by the La Jolla Community Foundation in 2010 and is now a project of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. The group is a collaboration of all the visual arts organizations in La Jolla, Forsha said, and now counts 32 murals in its collection (two were installed this year), and 15 are currently on view.

“We’re commissioning some of the most important artists of our time to make new works for our community,” Forsha said.

The project evolved into a “new model for public art,” Forsha said, in which all murals are on private property and privately funded. Murals hang for a few years and then are replaced by new ones.

“Everything is temporary,” Forsha said, “which is really important.”

In photographing the murals over the past decade, Rittermann said he’s enjoyed what he termed “a rare project.”

“These long-term projects allow you to sink into the material in a different way than a one-off,” he said.

Ritterman also collaborated on the 2013 mural “The Real Deal” with Robert Irwin.

For Rittermann, the process of turning the murals into a book was “fun in terms of distilling and concentrating all this material.”

That also was the most difficult part, however. “Certain favorite images just don’t make sense in a publication,” he said.

Murals of La Jolla member Patsy Marino, who serves on the executive and art advisory committees, said the Murals of La Jolla team is proud of the final product.

“It showcases not only the [first] 30 murals in the collection but it showcases our Village beautifully, from a completely different perspective,” Marino said.

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The Murals of La Jolla book contains a map of the mural sites, essays and bios of each of the 32 artists.

“It reminds people the project is ongoing. It’s not selling something,” Ritterman said. “As you see it and re-encounter it, maybe that opens the door to thinking about the role of art in life; it can be everywhere.”

Murals of La Jolla’s contributions to public art attracted Marino to the project years ago. “Any time you can make art approachable to every single human being without there being a fee is a great benefit, not only to the community but all the visitors here,” she said.

Even as it celebrates the past, the Murals of La Jolla group is focusing on the future.

“This is a chapter; this is the first decade,” Forsha said. “I’m in the process of commissioning artists to create proposals for a number of sites. There will be murals this year.”

Marino said she looks forward to the next 10 years. “I’m excited about what those artists will bring into our Village for us to look at and think about.”

The book is priced at $45. For more information or to purchase a copy, visit ◆

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