Local artist Ira Cosmos is driven to paint — especially La Jolla scenery

Ira Cosmos says art brought her to California from Ukraine.

Ira Cosmos loves La Jolla and creating art. So she’s turned her van into a blend of the two as she hopes to add more of her vision to The Village.

Cosmos, who is Ukrainian and moved to California four years ago, lives in Vista but works part time for La Jollan Chris Cott’s airbrush business. “I spend a lot of time in La Jolla,” she said.

On her van, she painted the Children’s Pool, a place “where I just like to go and relax,” she said. Prominently featured are the seals that call that beach home, along with the sea lions that inhabit La Jolla Cove further north.

“Seals are the most peaceful animals,” Cosmos said. “I’m not supposed to hug them, so I painted them on my car. It’s my personal zoo.”

Have you seen this van? It was painted by local artist Ira Cosmos, inspired by the La Jolla scenery she loves.

The hood of the van is painted with a dolphin, waves and surfers. “It’s everything [that] inspires me here, my favorite places,” she said.

Cosmos has worked with Cott for more than two years.

“She’s extremely talented,” Cott said. “There’s something she does that’s just beyond my skill level. She’s beyond people who have far surpassed her in years. I see her as being … an asset to La Jolla.”

Cosmos also is helping Cott with his community service projects. Cott has volunteered to paint rusting and faded utility boxes in partnership with the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District and San Diego Gas & Electric, with paint provided by SDG&E, according to MAD manager Mary Montgomery.

One such box at 1010 Prospect St. “is a magnet for vandalism,” Cott said, and he’ll have Cosmos paint it.

“I’m working on the sketches, with some flower field,” Cosmos said.

Cosmos and Cott hope she’ll be able to paint a mural in La Jolla soon. She’s working on a sketch.

“I’m working on underwater and out of water together — two worlds mixed. It’s very exciting,” said Cosmos, who added that she has painted murals in Ukraine and California.

Cott said he proposed a Cosmos mural to Montgomery. Montgomery, however, said La Jolla MAD has “no current plans to have Ira paint a mural in The Village [or] work with Ira, though her airbrushed artwork is lovely, especially the seascapes.”

Cott said he’s holding out hope. “They’d be lucky to have her,” he said. “It’s great to see her grow and her talent just expand.”

Cosmos also does freelance artwork all over San Diego, working with different shops and companies.

When asked what brought her to California, Cosmos said, “Art.”

“Every artist wants to reach some level, to learn more,” she said. “My country is small, so I wanted to learn more [about] custom painting because mostly I’m working with cars and motorcycles. California is the best place to do custom paint. Maybe because it’s sun, ocean. … It’s just very positive here.”

When she’s not painting, Cosmos is surfing. La Jolla “is my favorite surf break,” she said. “Every Monday, I’m at La Jolla Shores.” ◆