Prepare for ‘Landing’ - New painting replaces first in Murals of La Jolla program

It looks like The Girl from Ipanema went walking ... The first mural installed through the Murals of La Jolla Program in 2010, “Girl from Ipanema” by Kim MacConnel, was replaced this week with Heather Gwen Martin’s new work “Landing.”

One of the largest in the Murals program, installation of the piece took more than a week at 7724 Girard Ave. Starting with removal of the former piece and prep and priming, “Landing” will be unveiled this week.

“Since Kim’s mural was painted directly on its site, unlike most of the other murals, which are made using billboard technology, the Murals of La Jolla Art advisory committee decided to identify another painter for this commission,” said Murals of La Jolla curator Lynda Forsha. “The committee, which is made up of the heads of the visual arts institutions in La Jolla, thought Heather Gwen Martin was the ideal artist for this commission. She has a strong connection to San Diego, living here when she attended UCSD, and is, without question, one of the most inventive painters working today. There was great confidence that she would come up with something stunning and dynamic to follow in Kim’s good footsteps.”

Forsha added, “In a sense, we have commissioned a very large painting and it will be on view for some time, so it was important to choose an artist who was up to the task of maybe making the largest artwork they’ve ever made. In addition to all of the challenges involved in making a great painting — there is the additional challenge of understanding a scale that most artists might not be familiar with.”

Standing three stories tall, this is the largest piece artist Martin has ever done. “I’m very interested in energy and balance and the idea of movement, as though something is in motion and then captured as a moment in time,” she said of her work for La Jolla’s public art program. Using bright colors and wispy paint stokes, she said she hopes people will bring their own experiences and where they are in that moment in time to view the piece with an open mind.

“This piece has an awareness of (itself), and the shape of the canvas is really interesting in that it allows strokes to join at the corners and move around. You can see the two major sides and, for example, places where the dark green and lime green meet, like a pushing point to the other side. It wants to stop, but it doesn’t. Some of my paintings don’t end where the frame ends, they look like they could go on forever but have to end somewhere,” she said.

Commenting on different vantage points from which someone could view the piece — whether it be from afar or up close, looking up or straight on, at the most prominent sides or one its more narrow edges — Martin said she hopes people will also bring their own perspective to see its different angles. “Having never created a mural, I found the process fantastic and overwhelming.”

When approached to create something for the Murals of La Jolla program, Martin said she was happy to accept the task. “I lived in San Diego for a time, so I’m familiar with the Murals of La Jolla program and am pleased to be included. I know some of the other participating artists personally and others by reputation, and it’s a great group to be a part of,” she said.

Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, but sharing her time between the Great White North and San Diego, Martin said she always had an interest in making things, but it wasn’t until her late teens that she committed to her artistic passion. “I thought for a long time that I would go into medicine or science, but when I was 17, a friend died and I realized you only get one go-around at life, and decided to pursue what I love, which is art,” she said.

With a show in Los Angeles that was recently extended, the artist said she would be in La Jolla to see the unveiling. “I visit La Jolla often, so I wanted to be there for the installation process,” she said. “Plus it will be awesome to come back, happen by the site and show it off.”