Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, Esco Alley Art has added beauty to downtown Escondido after the long COVID winter.
Eager and enthusiastic friends, family and fans gathered Saturday, June 12 in the alley south of Grand Avenue between Broadway and Maple to witness the unveiling of 12 murals. These works by local artists were hung on the brick façade of the old H. Johnson Furniture building that now belongs to John Paul the Great Catholic University.
It was the grand opening of Esco Alley Art as they launched phase one of their three phase project.
Esco Alley Art’s goal is to make art available to all and to give artists an opportunity to create a 4 by 8 or 8 by 8 mural of their choice that will hang on the historic brick wall. Ultimately it is expected that the display will host about 30 paintings when all phases are complete. Each piece has a QR code to guide visitors to online information about the work and the artist.
Presenting artists are Maya Sorvala with her “King Octopus” mural; Leslie Mayer paid tribute to historic “Hal-Ah-Wee;” Kati Gaines addresses multiculturalism with her “Uniting Two Worlds;” Natalie J.D. Cuenca (Cachi) offered her spiritual perspective called “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom;” Tristan Pittard presented an introspective piece named “Pistil <3;” Jinx Lennon created her upbeat “Fiesta de Escondido;” Daniel Kilgore painted his scenic “The View from Connie’s Crab Shack;” Mauro Alvarez and his “Esco Strong” gave homage to Cruisin’ Grand; Julia Martinez honored her ancestry and Latino culture with “La Alegria;” Brenda Townsend contributed “Set Pieces for Patio Playhouse Youth Show: The Vain Princess,” a youth theatre backdrop of an African Folktale; Cindy Peters delivered her happy “Sunflowers,” and Madeline Reich produced a mind bending “Capable of Being Represented by a Straight Line.”
Viewers said that the diversity was exhilarating. Some murals were whimsical, while others were thought provoking. Comments were overheard such as, “It’s a pleasing smorgasbord of shapes, colors and images for the eye and food for the soul.”
Master of Ceremonies Carol Rogers and Esco Alley Art committee member welcomed and thanked Mayor Paul McNamara, Councilwoman Tina Inscoe and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron’s representative, Tom Stinson for attending the event.
McNamara expressed gratitude for a marked resurgence of the arts.
“One of the things I loved about Escondido is the art and culture. And we lost some of it in 2008 with the economic crisis,” he said. “As human beings, art has been with us for thousands of years. It is part of our soul. When we don’t have art, our soul goes hungry.”
He thanked the artists and the steering committee.
“We need that creativity not just for ourselves, but it is for our children and generations to come”, he said. “Without art our souls die. I am encouraged to see so much being done to resurrect and rebuild the arts in the city and bring life back to Escondido.”
Councilwoman Inscoe, a longtime and enthusiastic supporter of the arts echoed McNamara’s sentiments and expressed pleasure to see such an impressive display.
On behalf of Assemblywoman Waldron, Stinson presented Esco Alley Art with a certificate honoring the event lauding the efforts to beautify Escondido.
Rogers also thanked Dr. Derry Connolly the president of John Paul the Great Catholic University, for use of the wall for the exhibit.
Connolly commended the committee for their diligence and was complimentary of the talent.
“It is absolutely beautiful,” he said.
Connolly felt that the exhibit is very synergistic with his nonprofit university’s focus on the arts.
“Our goal is to rehab this building by the end of this year. So, we are working intensely with the City of Escondido to make this happen,” he said.
He was met with applause when he shared that the “building is going to be total studio space for visual and performing arts.”
Speeches concluded, everyone gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony, where artists cut the ribbon surrounding their own mural.
Cell phones came alive as friends, family and supporters took pictures with the artists posing in front of their work. The atmosphere was jubilant reminiscent of a wedding or graduation.
A DJ played music in the background.
The Flying Toad offered a lunchbox filled with delicacies and desserts for hungry visitors.
Pounders had their Esco Alley Art Special drink to mark the occasion along with black T-shirts with Pounders and the Esco Alley Art Logos.
Esco Alley Art phase one is now complete. Preparations are now underway for phase two that will feature ten more artists unveiling in August.
As we enter a summer without COVID, Esco Alley Art is poised to soar like a butterfly taking flight.