By Matthew Wood
By now, you may have seen the spectacular mural adorning the wall outside what is being called the “Hippie House” at Sunset Cliffs and Adair.
But do you know the artist behind the latest beacon of color welcoming people to the neighborhood?
Adelaide Marcus has been creating art from a multitude of media since moving to San Diego in 2005, and then to Ocean Beach two years later, but this is by far the largest scope of painting project she has endeavored.
“This is probably the most challenging project I’ve done,” she says of the mural, which stretches around the corner yard of the house just across from the entrance to the cliffs.
“I’m really happy with it. I fell in love with the project. I just really wanted each character to have its own life.”
It took more than 140 hours of work and spanned the entire month of December, but was finally finished on Tuesday afternoon, the 17th. It just needs to be sealed and then will be officially unveiled in a ceremony on Saturday that coincides with the winter solstice.
“I could spend two more months on it, but enough is enough,” she said. “It’s the coolest fence I’ve ever seen. It just has an organic feel to it.”
You might read those as the words of a braggart tooting their own horn, until you see the beauty and scope of the project. Each part of the 170-foot-long wall – which she painted on both sides – has a meaning, including an ocean theme with a mermaid and a keyboard playing the actual notes of the song “Imagine” by John Lennon.
Scott Stephens, owner of the house and founder of the band Liquid Blue , said he and Marcus collaborated on many of the symbols when he commissioned her to do the painting. He and the band recently moved into the house, which serves as a recording studio and home base for the band. He said he really wanted it to represent the neighborhood, which is how the OB peace sign – which is the unofficial centerpiece of the mural – came about.
“I thought that would be a nice tie-in right on the border of OB. That’s such an iconic peace symbol. One of the great peace symbols of the world. I love that particular sign,” he said. “I love everything on the wall, but that’s really one of my favorites.”
The project came about when Stephens met Marcus while she was doing a belly dance show – one of her multitude of art and performance outlets. The list includes poet, model, acrobat, stilt walker, hoop dancer, rapper (her “stage name” is Rapelaide), fire eater, snake charmer and mermaid.
Yes, mermaid .
She has her own fins and has done a dozen or so shows with her older sister, Leilainia. They have a role in an upcoming Doritos commercial that might be featured on the Super Bowl.
It was Leilainia who brought her younger sister out from their native El Paso, Texas, enticing her to do a belly dance show.
“I came out one weekend and did a gig with her,” Marcus recalls. “I got a $100 tip and I was like, ‘Oh my god!’”
She moved out shortly after that, in 2005, and began studying psychology at San Diego State. Two years later, she migrated to OB, and now has a private studio on Bacon Street where she teaches belly dance classes – the girls have a belly dance business called the Shimmy Sisters – and does most of her painting, which she picked up in 2008.
“Painting is more grounding. It’s something I can do in my home, which is nice. I have a lot of energy behind painting,” she said. “I’m learning so much. I’m self-taught.”
She enjoys the challenges that come from such a diverse art palate, which are on display at her Art By Adelaide studio and website .
“Sometimes I want to pick one (medium), but then I start to miss the others.”
That Marcus would become an artist seems like a foregone conclusion when you hear about her family. Her dad was an artist. Mom was a belly dancer – teaching her daughters how to perform at a young age. Her brother is a DJ. And Leilainia, who lives in Normal Heights, runs an entertainment company that books many of Adelaide’s gigs. She was a ballet dancer as a child and is no stranger to the stage.
“I sort of became a public person and already had an audience when I was young,” she said.
She credits her business sense to her grandpa, who owned numerous businesses, instilling an entrepreneurial sense in her and “was basically a badass.”
Which brings us to today and the completion of the Hippie House mural.
You would think Marcus might want to bask in the glory of completing such a project, but she’s already looking forward to the next adventure. After spending some well-earned time with her family in Hawaii over the holidays, she’s planning a mini-tour north to San Francisco in January. That trip will culminate with the unveiling of her painting, “Think Globally,” on top of a billboard as part of a local campaign to replace advertising with artwork.
“Things are getting big, literally and figuratively,” Marcus said with a laugh.