Vince Meehan | Downtown News
At the end of September, Downtown will be graced by a contingent of female artists from around the world who will be painting large murals at key outdoor locations in East Village. Dubbed the “Ladies Who Paint Mural Walk,” this free, seven-day event will kick off on Saturday, Sept. 28, and wrap up on Saturday, Oct. 5. The inaugural all-female mural walk will serve as a showcase for women muralists who often do not get the same opportunities or recognition as their male counterparts. This event will also serve as a retreat of sorts for the artists, who will be put up in a beach area Airbnb and pampered for the week they are in San Diego. The artists hail from countries such as Brazil, Canada, France, Australia and New Zealand, as well as from U.S. cities such as New York, Dallas, Atlanta and even San Diego. Attendees can expect to see a wide range of mural types and watch the creative process in action. The event will end with a wrap party that is open the public.
This art festival will be hosted by the local nonprofit organization Ladies Who Paint, whose goal is to support women artists while improving the city of San Diego with art. Local artists Roxy Prima and Phoebe Cornog, who co-own The Pandr Design Co, founded Ladies Who Paint. Their design agency specializes in mural and letter design, and has painted more than 100 murals both nationally and internationally. Ladies Who Paint was founded after Prima and Cornog noticed that featured artists on Instagram were predominantly male. Later, they participated in a mural painting event where 40 artists were invited, but only a handful of them were women. That’s when they decided to take action.
“You don’t think this happens in the art industry, but it does. So, we decided that we could start our own mural festival, and do something fun in San Diego,” Cornog said. “We also feel that the weather here is the best for painting, we have basically perfect weather year-round. There are other cities like Philadelphia and Boston, but they can only paint three months out of the year. Our goal is to empower women by bringing 10 female artists from around the world and have them each paint a large mural in the East Village. And if all goes well, we’d love to have it be an annual thing.”
A promotional mural was painted back in May on the Dog Days pet care building on the corner of F and 13th streets to promote the upcoming event. This also acted as a catalyst for a social media campaign, which is instrumental in the success of the event. Being millennials, Prima and Cornog rely on Instragram and Pinterest to not only promote their own company, but the mural walk as well. Their idea is to feature the promotional mural on social media and get the artists to interact with their hashtag. This builds the event’s profile, which helps increase publicity as well as fundraising. The founders also used their social media prowess to find artists from around the world.
Ladies Who Paint also put together a crowdsourcing effort through a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the event. Their goal is to raise $60,000 to cover the event operational expenses, which include airfare for all the artists, housing and all meals during the week. Also covered are equipment costs that include lifts, ladders, transportation, and painting supplies. In addition, they are actively seeking sponsors for the event. Excess funds donated will go to a local nonprofit that benefits at-risk women in San Diego.
Current major sponsors include Carleton Management, which is helping secure walls for the murals, and the surf clothing/sandal company Reef, which is providing housing for the artists at a beach area Airbnb. While in San Diego, the artists will be treated to dinner events, surf lessons and transportation for the week they are here.
“We wanted to create a spa-like experience for the girls while they are here,” Cornog said. “Smart & Final will be providing groceries for the beach house and Coronado Brewing will host a dinner. Also, Lululemon will be providing massages because it’s back-breaking work that these women will do; your neck and shoulders are just wrecked after these projects, so massages are key!”
Inviting artists from around the world insured that a wide range of styles would be represented at the mural walk. “We wanted a diverse group, different areas represented, and also different cultures and different kinds of artwork,” Cornog noted. “We didn’t want all spray paint and we didn’t want all typography, so we’re going to curate it to be like a gallery, having all different types of artwork up next to each other.”
Another key feature of the mural walk is to localize it in the East Village as a way to instigate an art revolution. This is something that the women learned from bad examples of previous mural walks that were scattered about their cities. There was a definite loss of continuity, which lessened the artistic impact on the town.
Roxy believes that people taking photos of the murals will inspire other Instagram users from around the nation to visit San Diego. “The women that we have coming out have really incredible portfolios, and really diverse work so we’ll have different types of art. We’ll have spray paint, stencils, typography, realism, flowers, so it’s going to be fun to see all these bright, different things pop up,” noted Prima. “They all have great social media followings so it’ll be a wonderful thing when they’re posting about this work they’re doing in San Diego and that goes back to Paris, it goes back to New Zealand and places all over the world and hopefully gets us global recognition.”
— Vince Meehan can be reached at [email protected]. San Diego Downtown News is a San Diego Community News Group publication.