La Jolla merchants group almost has its puzzle project together

This image of La Jolla will be made into a fundraising puzzle.
(Courtesy of Rachel Siegel )

LJVMA contracted with a Los Angeles-based watercolor artist to create an image of La Jolla.


From sea to sky, from hotels to hillsides, an image depicting all La Jolla has to offer has been created and will be turned into a puzzle to be sold by local businesses.

The watercolor image, crafted by Los Angeles-based artist Rachel Siegel, includes local architecture, street signs, marine life, the Children’s Pool, kayakers, the La Valencia Hotel and more.

“Many main street associations and business districts are getting creative about alternative revenue sources,” said Jodi Rudick, executive director of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association. “Prior to COVID, our board had talked about developing a line of La Jolla Village merchandise starting with a custom-designed jigsaw puzzle. … The finished piece tells a story of our beautiful seaside village and all its coastal inhabitants and visitors. Anyone who has ever spent time in La Jolla Village will see themselves in the art. Favorite places, marine life, activities and vistas are well-represented.”

As Siegel was getting all those bits and pieces into the finished product, she was in constant contact with management of the La Valencia, which shepherded the project and provided a stay for Siegel and her family as payment.

“Rachel had done a couple of watercolors for us in the past, so when it came to working on this project, we wanted to work with her again,” said La Valencia marketing director Annalise Dewhurst. “She does these wonderful watercolors, and we wanted a watercolor feel in creating the piece. She also often does these watercolor collages, and since there was so much to capture, we wanted to go that direction.”

Management offered a few things to include, such as the La Valencia, birds and the Children’s Pool seawall, but the rest was up to Siegel.

“It ended up better than I envisioned. This one had so many cool elements and ideas. It was really fun.”

— Rachel Siegel

Siegel said she often visits La Jolla with her 12-year-old twins and wanted to create something “whimsical” that “could tell the big story of La Jolla and not just capture one view.”

“There were a lot of layers,” she said with a laugh. “I draw and paint for a living, so the way I compose things comes pretty naturally and quickly once I have an idea. I looked at Scripps Park and The Village as a starting point. I layered on the seals and the kayakers. I wanted to play with scale, so the signs are really big.”

She showed drafts to La Valencia management as they developed, she said. “We kept enhancing it from there.”

Through the process, Siegel learned about the annual harbor seal pupping season and the native plants and flowers in the area.

“We kept building it up and it got better and stronger,” Siegel said. “It ended up better than I envisioned. This one had so many cool elements and ideas. It was really fun.

“I’m so happy with the final product. I think it’s perfect for a puzzle. I like that there are enough details that you can see different things when you look at it. I love the colors of La Jolla, and they are in there.”

La Valencia General Manager Summer Shoemaker told the Village Merchants Association this month that, now that the art is done, it would be digitally scanned so it can be converted into a puzzle.

Rudick said a puzzle company projected it would take 10 weeks to finish the job.

“The 1,000-piece puzzles will be purchased by LJVMA and sold wholesale to member businesses or hotels,” Rudick told the La Jolla Light. “Guests and customers will be able to purchase online and onsite from these retailers. All proceeds will go directly to participating merchants and to support future promotions and events.”

Pricing has not been finalized, she said, though “we expect the cost to be similar to other quality jigsaw puzzles.” ◆