Ocean Beach Is Second Only to Barrio Logan for Being the ‘Mural Capital’ of San Diego

by on October 18, 2019 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

It’s not surprising that Ocean Beach has many murals adorning the walls of businesses around the community. But what is surprising is that Ocean Beach now – with recent additions on People’s facade – has more murals than any other community in San Diego except for Barrio Logan and all its murals at Chicano Park.

Not based on any scientific study – this is art, you understand – this claim to mural fame second to Chicano Park – is based on just driving around the village and counting all the murals. Try it – it’s a trip. OB has a feel, a vibe for art – (and music, beer and drugs) …. – but OB has had a history of murals since the 1970s. Another OB tradition that’s still alive.

Now, there’s different kinds of murals, for sure.

New mural at People’s Food.

There’s paintings with business logos – the Hodads “mural” for instance announcing the billions or trillions of burgers sold. Is that a mural? Or is it a commercial? It’s paint on a wall definitely.

One of the very first murals in Ocean Beach was above the door of a former liquor store on Voltaire. There was nothing commercial about it, as it was simply a landscape.

Some businesses are able to immerse their brand or logo into a mural – the Electric Chair comes to mind. But most of these murals are not really murals, like the OB Playhouse off the alley, but are signs. Commercial signs. Even with palm trees and sunsets.

One of the numerous mural panels from the Street Fair.

Then in OB, there’s all the “murals” from the numerous OB Street Fairs held over the years. These are “folk art” and involve children, young people – amateurs (not being insulting, here) painting off a grid-design put together by somebody else.

Some of these folk art murals are very interesting. Some are not. One has to wonder how many more will be going up over the next decade.

One of the murals in Mural Alley.

Then there’s the really artistic, quality murals. Some of them are in OB’s “Mural Alley” – the alley south of Newport between Cable and Bacon.

This is definitely a community treasure, this alley.

Speaking of alleys, OB does have a brand new quality mural, just completed in an alley; it’s on the south wall of the new yoga center, reUnify, at 2183 Bacon. It’s by Simon, a local mural artist based in Ocean Beach as Simmage Designs . Here’s a direct link to his website www.simmagedesigns.com .

Mural in the parking lot behind Bravo’s, off Cable.

Some murals have messages, often political or cultural ones.

In fact, one of the very first OB murals was brimming with political and historical figures; it was painted on the south wall of the building that houses the pottery studio and Newbreak, facing what’s now Bluewater.

It was done by a handful of local, OB artists who worked with famous muralist Mario Torreo. After several years, it was sand-blasted out of existence. It was too radical for the new mall coming in at that corner of Abbott and Santa Monica.

Mural on the north side of OB Elementary School, off Santa Monica.

There’s the OB-themed murals. There’s lots of them. You know, the Pier, the parrots, the ocean, the surf, the sunsets, palm trees. Are these art? Dunno.

Did you ever play the OB monopoly game? All photos by Frank Gormlie

What we do know – is that there’s lots of blank walls around the neighborhood. Some of these walls are just begging to have murals on them.

The famous “OB Mermaid” is embedded on canvas of sorts.

Public art, whether a mural or something else, such as this coffee mug in Mural Alley, is always welcome.

Find one – find an artist or two or three and get the business or property owner to agree to have it up. There’s plenty of canvas around here. Let’s throw some murals on them.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Judy Collier October 19, 2019 at 6:20 am

Thank you for highlighting these Ocean Beach treasures.


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