UCSD professor sees mural as statement on La Jolla's vitality

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

With his abstract wall mural coursing down a building in the background, paint-splattered artist Kim MacConnel said he hopes his new La Jolla public art creation inspires an interest in the arts and the vibrancy of the community.

“It’s just an abstract composition, wavy lines down the side of the building: It feels like a flow,” said the UCSD art professor, describing his large-scale mural, most of which is on the rear walls of the Lapiz Building at 7724 Girard Ave.

MacConnel was chosen by the nonprofit La Jolla Community Foundation to be the first artist participating in the La Jolla Arts Program. Others are already in the works. The program’s goals are to promote dialogue and connection among residents while enhancing the beauty and aesthetic character of the community ... by enhancing previously nondescript spaces.

MacConnel described the dynamic of his new composition.

“There’s a pattern created by it of the positive, the colors and shapes,” he said. “But there’s also the negative - the (back)ground that it’s painted on top of so the white (building) keeps popping through and becoming a form so it’s not just a background.”

The artist said he hopes his latest work will contribute to the vibrancy of La Jolla.

“Hopefully it ends up making something of a statement about being alive, like La Jolla is alive,” he said. “It’s just not a shopping mall. It has a cultural base that’s linked to the museum and several galleries.”

MacConnel said if his work “engenders more interest in art - then it’s done a good job.”

The artist has another mural in downtown San Diego on a large building to the west of the Civic Center that he said is “making a case for people moving back to the city because of its convenience.”

Abstraction, said MacConnel, is not his preferred mode of art just “one of the kinds of things I’ve done over my career.” He said he’s moved from textiles and the images that come from that early in his career to Chinese-, African- and Indian-inspired imagery taken from his travels, which have also involved photography.

In 2003, MacConnel said he was “playing around” with abstraction painting a restaurant interior for a friend in New York City.

“I painted one of the dining rooms and all the chairs with rollers,” he said. “I found it really interesting, so I started making actual paintings to hang on a wall off of those ideas. Now it’s developed back into doing a mural.”

Matt Browar, chair of the Arts Committee of the La Jolla Foundation said so far all the reaction he’s gotten from people he’s spoken to on MacConnel’s mural “has been positive.”

He said the arts committee has identified five locations for wall murals in the Village, and that the next one would be completed and installed within the next 60 to 90 days. “We’re unable to share the location until the artist has made a final commitment and all final documents have been signed,” he said. “If the community supports public art on private property in La Jolla, that will add another jewel to the landscape.”

Formed in 2008, the La Jolla Community Foundation recently funded the fire pits in La Jolla Shores and, in addition, is working on an environmental project for the La Jolla coastline. The La Jolla Community Foundation is considering a number of different projects to fund in the future that encourage civic engagement and pride through local philanthropy.[gallery order="DESC” columns="2"]