Artist suggests mural for wall at Marine Street beach


As La Jolla continues to debate the merits of murals, a brand new one is being planned for a wall along Marine Street beach.

Introduced at the June 24 La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) meeting, artist Abraham Musto said he would like to create a custom piece for the geometric wall that supports the stairs leading to the beach, but an exact design has not been decided.

The wall is often tagged with graffiti, including (recently) a mention of the show “The Office,” images of male anatomy, the common “so-and-so was here,” demands for sex acts not suitable for print, and friendly hellos, among other messages.

“People have spray-painted curse words, and there is a drainage hole there that has been an ‘embellishment’ to various forms of art that is distasteful,” said trustee Patrick Ahern. “So some residents came forward with the idea that a mural might put a stop to it.”

He added that an e-mail went out to residents about the idea, and they were largely in support.

Following the meeting, neighbor Cynthia Chasan confirmed to La Jolla Light: “All responses were positive. One response questioned the simplicity of the artwork, however, when I explained that it was designed in a simplistic fun way to, hopefully, get people to want to take a photo in front of it, rather than deface it with more graffiti, the neighbor thought it was a good idea.”

Musto presented a small selection of renderings to the board, and some of the early concepts are a “donut wall,” a design and a phrase such as “you are where you are supposed to be” or all black with Tetris pieces coming into the wall. “We are shifting into a culture where people like to take pictures in front of walls and murals, so the more fun and vibrant and beautiful it is, the less likely someone is to touch it,” he said.

Another suggestion was to have the mural be ocean-themed, but during a visit to the site, Musto explained: “I think it’s such as weird thing to have the ocean painted here when you could literally turn around and see the ocean right there. It gets old. We want something that will make the wall more vibrant. Art can liven up a space with great color or a theme. Any kind of color or an image can make a space look completely different. It’s not about what it might be worth, it’s about that it can bring to people.”

Musto is the artist responsible for the murals at Muirlands Middle School, which depicts a whale’s tail surrounded by geometric shapes; and at La Jolla High School for its robotics club. He also teaches painting.

“Because I work with students so much, and we are always down here during the summer,” he said, “we saw time and time again that the wall just looks terrible. And because this is where our students come over the summer, I thought it would be a cool thing for me to be able to say that I did it for them.”

In the coming months, Musto will present three to 10 renderings and collect feedback on them from residents and at LJP&B meetings, modifying the designs as needed until residents give the thumbs up.

From there, Musto will make minor repairs to the wall to smooth it out and prepare it for painting. But, he said that would likely not be until the end of summer, when beach attendance (and the opportunity to deface the work-in-process) decreases.

A donor, who wishes to remain anonymous for now, has agreed to fund the supplies when the time comes to put paint on the wall, and Musto said he would donate his time.

A motion to approve the mural idea in concept, and give the residents final say on the design, passed unanimously.

— LJP&B next meets, 4 p.m. Monday, July 22 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.