‘A community portrait’: Colorful mural in La Jolla to be redone with locals’ choices

Roy McMakin's "Favorite Color" will be redesigned with color selections made by the community.
(Philipp Scholz Rittermann)

Whether you are tickled pink or feeling blue, La Jollans are invited to participate in a revamp of the Roy McMakin mural “Favorite Color” at 7596 Eads Ave. by choosing their favorite hue to be painted on one of the 900 squares that make up the mural, which will be renamed “Your Favorite Color.”

Participants are invited to visit the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library rotunda courtyard at 1008 Wall St. from noon to 5 p.m. May 19-20 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 21 and select from among 75 colors to be included in the mural. Selection is free, but advance registration is required by visiting and searching for “New Mural: Your Favorite Color.”

The mural will be repainted this summer.

“Favorite Color” is part of the Murals of La Jolla program, which commissions public art projects on private property throughout La Jolla. While none of the installations is considered permanent, the Murals of La Jolla committee wanted to keep “Favorite Color” onsite, given its popularity. Others in the program are rotated out every two to six years.

Murals of La Jolla was founded by the La Jolla Community Foundation and is now a project of the Athenaeum. “Favorite Color” was one of the first murals created through the program.

“I think it is something that people have thought about their entire life: What is your favorite color?” said Murals of La Jolla Executive Director Lynda Forsha. “I think for a lot of people, that changes over time. It forces you to home in on something significant.”

The first version of the mural was created in 2010 with a “healthy amount of chaos and a lot of necessary ad-hoc decision-making,” according to an Athenaeum news release. It was made with hand-mixed colors, making it harder to replace them as they faded or chipped.

When it came to repainting the mural, the committee decided to use shades from the RAL color chart, which is used internationally, so the mural can be maintained and preserved more easily.

“We were given 2,000 swatches and narrowed it down to 75,” Forsha said. “So if someone comes to us and says ‘My favorite color is green,’ they will look at a range of greens to find their green.”

“It will be interesting to me to see where it goes. There will be no right or wrong, it will just be what it is.”

— Roy McMakin

Participants’ entries will be logged in a spreadsheet and painted in the order chosen. That way, Forsha said, people can find their color and where it is located on the wall.

The committee left it up to the artist to decide how to redesign the mural.

“I didn’t think the idea was broken … so I decided to ... make it more organized and streamlined,” McMakin said. “We want to see how different it will look at this point in time. We’re redoing it with something similar but a different set of colors with different people.”

Though the mural is “an art experiment” with no intended outcome, McMakin said he is eager to see “the degree to which it feels the same or has the same quality in its layout.”

When “Favorite Color” was created, he said, “I was surprised at how evenly distributed the colors were. There was not one most-chosen color, and it looks kind of random. Last time, the No. 1 color — but not by much — was lime green. This time, it will be interesting to me to see where it goes. There will be no right or wrong, it will just be what it is.”

The first time around, McMakin added, “there were a lot of parents with young kids,” and he hopes “those that chose a color as children will come back. It would be interesting to see what they pick this time.”

Forsha said people “feel it is a community portrait. People come back to the wall, and when I give tours, people often stop me and tell me what their color is. It’s not every day you get to participate in something like this, something you can go back and visit over time. It’s recognizable, signature and will continue to be.” ◆