As part of the ongoing Whale View Point Shoreline Enhancement Project to improve the third-mile oceanside stretch between 200 to 600 Coast Boulevard, organizers want to superimpose a flat educational display of a gray whale near the project’s southern border.
In honor of the project’s namesake — and the view of migrating gray whales along the stretch at different points in the year — project organizer Ann Dynes would like to hire an artist to paint a near life-sized image of a gray whale on the cement, the specifics of which have yet to be announced.
In theory, Dynes said, “We could have the image of a whale facing southbound with a plaque explaining that California gray whales migrate in the fall. Or if we had the room, we could have a gray whale and a calf going north with some small (similar informational) signage.”
Presenting tentative renderings at the La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) Feb. 22 meeting, Dynes said she wanted to “test the waters” of the board before proceeding with something more formal.
“If the consensus of the group was to say they’d like to run with it, I will meet with artists and the appropriate city entities, and reach out to other La Jollans who should weigh-in on this,” she said. “The idea is not to do it right now, but to see if there is support for it.”
Thus far, Dynes said she has spoken to nearby residents and those who frequent the area on walks, and the feedback has been largely positive. “Everyone I’ve talked to thinks it would be charming to put something there,” she said. “If you think about the people who walk that stretch every day, some don’t even look out into the ocean! They see all the spouts going by (but don’t know what that is). Some graphics would embellish the experience of visitors to the area.”
The whale image would be flat to the ground, so as not to be a trip hazard, but something that could be seen from a car on the street or those walking by. The idea to etch the outline of a whale into the cement was previously discussed, but Dynes said due to city constraints, anything that jeopardizes the integrity of the cement over the pump station found underground at that location, is prohibited.
LJP&B member Phyllis Minick noted that at similar sites where there is an educational display, an informational plaque or kiosk is usually present to explain its significance. Agreeing, Dynes said her committee would likely place a small plaque nearby.
Some form of educational display is required as part of the long-term Whale View Point Shoreline Enhancement Project, which LJP&B adopted in 2014 for implementation from the La Jolla Conservancy. The project contains several components in various areas, including replanting the Wedding Bowl, improving the walkway that extends the project area and more. The overall project is expected to take 20 years to complete and cost $2.1 million, with independent tasks tackled as funds become available.
Dynes said the educational whale graphic would not be a permanent display, but last about 10 years. Member Patrick Ahern said he would favor the installation if it was “understated” and “part of the space rather than something that jumps in your face.”
Member Judy Adams Halter added, “So much of contemporary art now has people thinking about what’s around them. I, too, think it can be understated and provide knowledge.”
With overall support, Dynes said she would speak to different city entities to see what is permitted and return with more information. Although artists donated tentative renderings to help the board conceptualize the project, Dynes said she would also consider a call for Requests For Proposals from area artists. “This discussion today was just the first step,” she said.