Local Muralist Celeste Byers Keeps Messages Alive in her Artwork

by on October 27, 2016 · 6 comments

in Culture, Environment, Media, Ocean Beach

celeste-byer-mural-chrisli-mhBy South OB Girl

As you exit Ocean Beach on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, headed towards the 8 freeway, you may have noticed the mural covering the southern wall of Chris’ Liquor, right off the alley. That mural was done by the local, and extremely prolific artist, Celeste Byers.

celeste-byer-mural-chrisli2-mhAnd as you head back from walking on the OB Pier, you might notice the mural on the west-facing wall of Teeter’s at 5032 Niagara Ave. That is by Celeste too, and was a collaboration with Aaron Glasson.

Those two Ocean Beach murals are displayed in areas where many thousands of people see those walls in our community each week. But Celeste’s paint brushes have graced many walls throughout the world beyond OB — including Sri Lanka, Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia, and several cities in Mexico.

celeste-byer-mural-teter-mh

Teeter’s at 5032 Niagara Ave. Celeste collaborated with Aaron Glasson.

Many projects which have taken Celeste abroad were for the PangeaSeed Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans project. Air travel, accommodations, meals, and paint were provided by PangeaSeed. PangeaSeed’s mural projects aim to raise awareness about different issues effecting our oceans. And each of Celeste’s murals has featured a specific topic regarding the well being of sea life and our oceans.

celeste-byer-mh

Celeste Byers – photo by South OB Girl

Celeste has done ten murals for PangeaSeed. Her murals have been intended to raise awareness about the following issues: marine animal captivity, over-fishing of blue fin tuna, shark finning, whale sharks, manta rays, ocean pollution, lion fish, sonic probing in oceans, the endangered Fiorland Crested penguins of New Zealand, and the ecosystem of the marsh area of Mission Bay in San Diego.

Born and raised in Point Loma, Celeste Byers has taken the art world by storm.  After Sunset View and Dana, the project based learning at High Tech High was an ideal environment to progress artistically.

The art teacher at HTH at first did paint by numbers projects with the students, simply having students copy and reproduce a painting. But after a math teacher saw Celeste doodling on a notebook in class – the math teacher spoke to the art teacher, and from then on Celeste was allowed to do what she wanted to in art class. That was 10th grade. Her talent was blossoming. And the many projects that were part of the High Tech High curriculum usually ended up being art projects of sorts for Celeste.

In four short years since graduating from the Art Center of College of Design in Pasadena, she has accomplished more than some artists do in a decade. With 13,300 followers on Instagram – she has quite a fan base.

Back in 2013 Celeste flew to Sri Lanka to interview for a teaching position at a design school. That whole starving artist image – Celeste kicks that to the curb with the amount of opportunities that seem to rain upon her. She has been flown to several different countries for PangeaSeed.

celeste-byer-2-mhAnd the opportunity to interview at the design school in Sri Lanka – an educated guess on my part that many artists would get in line for such opportunities. That trip would have been paid for by the design school if she had signed a year long contract prior to visiting, but Celeste opted out of signing the contract before visiting and paid for her own trip to visit the school and Sri Lanka.

While visiting the school in Sri Lanka, Celeste decided not to go into teaching, but she met a teacher at the school who has since been an artistic partner on countless projects. That individual was Aaron Glasson, who is originally from New Zealand. An artistic partnership has continued since that trip. They have worked on a myriad of projects together. Murals as well as canvases and experimental pieces.

celeste-byer-mura-logan-mhThere have been heaps of high profile opportunities in addition to PangeaSeed. She has done illustrations for several Op-Ed pieces in The New York Times.

Who Has the Guts For Gluten?”

Fixing Our Food Problem

“Apes Need Vaccines, Too”

“G.M.O. Foods and the Trust Issue”

Beware of Cold-Blooded Americans

An additional high profile opportunity was at this summer’s Comic-Con. After Celeste was selected in a submission process, Warner Bros asked Celeste to design a Wonder Woman mural to paint at Comic-Con 2016 for the superhero’s 75th anniversary.

After doing some research, Celeste learned that Wonder Woman is from an isolated paradise island of an Amazonian race of women. On her website featuring her many works of art, Celeste describes her Comic-Con Wonder Woman:

“The myth of Amazonian Women is from Greek mythology. Because of this, I painted her as a Greek woman, surrounded by many Greek plants along with a few others I was drawn to. Wonder Woman is a symbol of feminism and I liked the idea of her surrounded in flowers, symbols of the feminine. The color palette is based on her American patriotism because in the comic, she helped fight for America and win WWII. I painted her wearing the Wonder Woman outfit from the 1970s TV show.”

Celeste originally submitted with the 1970s outfit and lots of flowers — but Warner Bros asked her to tone down the flowers and update her outfit to the current one. The final painting at Comic-Con was 8 feet by 8 feet and was painted live on site from Wednesday to Saturday.

celeste-byer-mural-chrisli3-mh

Detail of mural at Chris’

The mural at Chris’ Liquor came about in a way that many of us have not heard about yet. Celeste was contacted by the art magazine, “Juxtapoz,” to be an artist for a collaboration sponsored by American Express. There were 12 muralists nation-wide. And the theme was “Show your love for small business.” Celeste approached the owner of Chris’ Liquor as she felt the prominent, empty wall seen by cars passing by on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard was a prime location – and she was given a thumbs up to do a mural on that wall. The mural was commissioned by the American Express “Shop Small Initiative” and the intention for the mural was to reflect the spirit of the community and community support for small business.

Then there are the countless projects Celeste has undertaken – from rocks painted to look like they are from space to murals, paintings, and drawings for businesses throughout San Diego as well as for family and friends. There is a mural at Maker’s Quarters and at the restaurant Madison on Park. Murals also adorn the walls at Little Dame in North Park, M-Theory Records in Mission Hills, Teros Gallery in City Heights, and 4 dispensaries throughout town – all of those on top of the murals at Teeter and Chris’s Liquor and her numerous PangeaSeed murals.

And her talents are not just in drawing and painting. She, along with Aaron, directed, filmed, and edited the very cool music video “Crossfire” for The Verigolds.

A particular event that Celeste enjoys is a music festival called Desert Daze. Installations created for the event showcase Celeste’s creative abilities outside of painting and drawing. She and Aaron were asked to create an installation last year – and their creation has now become a bit of a legend. Last year they created a tepee shaped “teleporter” made from insulation spray foam – and the story line was that inter-dimensional travelers come to earth delivering messages via the teleporter.

Celeste just returned last week from Desert Daze 2016, held in Joshua Tree, and the wild fun of the teleporter and the travelers continued this year, with the “Infinagon” — a futuristic space temple. The inside is a lounging space for people to hang out, with infinity mirrors, plants, and dangling lights. Celeste and Aaron’s installation was a total hit at the festival — and two couples ended up getting married inside it!

Celeste has developed a style all her own. But a few artists have inspired her along the way. Such as French artist (Abdul) Mati Klarwein who did many famous album covers. And back in art school she found an interesting book next to a dumpster. It was a book of Japanese artist Tadanori Yokoo’s art — and he has also been a source of inspiration for Celeste.

A summer film internship at Encyclopedia Picturia in Santa Cruz was also influential for Celeste. The internship was quite a unique experience – in a highly creative setting. She lived on a farm in a tent (with access to a bathroom) for the internship. And the creative minds behind music videos for Bjork and Grizzly Bear work at this farm based film company. Celeste didn’t know at first that she would be living in a tent – but it was all worth it. Not just worth it — she loved it!

Living in the Santa Fe Artists Colony while she was in art school was also a place she grew artistically. And Aaron and other friends have also been constant inspirations.

celeste-byer-works-mhA few words of her own that describe her style – she likes “busy, complicated imagery.” She can appreciate simple imagery but it doesn’t satisfy her.

She also draws constant inspiration from other cultures. Just like her art, Celeste is animated and full of life, and down to earth. Her artwork is often filled with images of the natural world as well as elements of fantasy. And her studio/home is likewise filled with shells, palm fronds, and crystals as well as fantasy world pieces of art. Such as “Life on Life.”

Her first foam project in art school. Overflowing with images of life in the natural world– barnacles, frogs, mushrooms, lichen. She simultaneously captures the essence of earthly creatures while creating images of fantasy and other-worldliness. We can continue to expect great things here in OB and around the world from this visionary, talented young woman.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon October 27, 2016 at 9:43 pm

Nice story. Love her murals, and it was interesting to read about how Chris’ mural came to be.

Reply

South OB Girl October 28, 2016 at 11:41 am

Photo credit: Celeste Byers, celestebyers.com, for the the following photos…
All photos of Celeste’s mural at Chris’, Celeste and Aaron Glasson’s mural at Teeter, and “Freedom/Captivity” on the wall of La Bodega Gallery (one of Celeste’s ten PangeaSeed murals).

Check out celestebyers.com to see the many, many works done by Ms. Byers around the world. Including album covers, videos, canvases, art installations, and more.

Reply

South OB Girl October 28, 2016 at 11:46 am

Link to view the many, many works done by Celeste Byers:

http://www.celestebyers.com/

Reply

Geof's mom October 28, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Congrats from Geofrey and family!! Wonderful & interesting works.

Reply

Chuck October 29, 2016 at 8:34 am

I’ve been a admirer of Celeste and Aaron’s mural at Teeter for some time. In fact it’s my homepage image on the IPhone (hope that’s cool with them). The subjects, colors, and design really speak to me….going to check out her new work at Chris’s soon.

Reply

fstued November 5, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Nice to see Celestle’s work and hear that she is doing well and all grown up. I remember her from girls soccer when I coached a flock of 10 yr old girls, what fun.
Thanks

Reply

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: