Music Box Creates Space for San Diego Artists to Display Their Art, Support Charity

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Downtown’s Music Box has partnered with ArtReach to highlight local artists.

TIMES of San Diego

May 11, 2024

The year-long series that began this spring includes a wall gallery on the venue’s third floor; the first featured artist is Josué Baltézar.

Baltézar, who is of Mexican-American heritage, has four paintings on display, “Heart in a Storm,” “Desert Heart”, “Corazon de San Diego” and “Rebirth.”

All paintings are available for purchase on canvas print. Proceeds from the sales of Baltézar’s work will support ArtReach, a non-profit organization that seeks to bolster youth creativity through visual arts and community connection.

Baltézar, who was raised in Chula Vista, specializes in murals, illustration and branding. He is passionate about helping people and organizations working in social justice.

“We see Music Box as a celebration of all types of art,” said the club’s owner Joey Rocco. “Whether it’s live music or fine art, we are proud to be embedded in the heart of San Diego featuring local, regional and national talents. As an independently owned business, we are here to support independent artists fulfill their dreams.”

The next local artist to be featured Music Box is Ian Stiles-Mikl. His work will be on display by the start of summer. His lifelong admiration for murals and street art drives his enthusiasm for community projects.

We are thrilled about this ongoing artist series with Music Box,” said ArtReach Advancement Manager Anna Laroque. “They’ve created new opportunities for artistic expression and community engagement for some of the artists we work with. We truly appreciate the venue’s support and commitment to fostering a thriving arts scene in our community.”

Click here to read the full article >>

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Mission Fed ArtWalk celebrates 40 years in Little Italy | April 27 & 28

Courtney Pendleton from Mission Fed and Becca Dwyer with ArtReach San Diego joined the FOUR to talk about the fine art festival back for its 40th year in San Diego.

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Courtney Pendleton from Mission Fed and Becca Dwyer with ArtReach San Diego joined the FOUR to talk about the fine art festival back for its 40th year in San Diego.

HEATHER MYERS | CBS8

APRIL 22, 2024

Click here to watch the full video on Youtube >>

Mission Fed ArtWalk – the largest and longest-running fine art festival in Southern California – is back for its 40th year, bringing a weekend-long celebration of arts and culture to San Diego’s Little Italy on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28, 2024.

ArtReach will have a Youth Art Show featuring over 300 works of art from youth in San Diego and beyond. 100% of the proceeds from this fundraiser will support ArtReach’s mission to ignite youth creativity through visual arts expression and community connection.

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NEW MURALS DEDICATED IN CITY HEIGHTS REFLECT MULTICULTURAL COMMUNITY

Vibrant new murals adorn the exterior of City Heights Plaza del Sol, an affordable housing complex in the heart of San Diego’s City Heights community.

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Vibrant new murals adorn the exterior of City Heights Plaza del Sol, an affordable housing complex in the heart of San Diego’s City Heights community. The murals are the latest addition to a series of ArtReach Murals created under lead artist Josué Baltézar.

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE

APRIL 12, 2024

Click to read the full article online >>

City Heights Plaza del Sol recently welcomed 75 local families into their new homes. The new community results from a partnership between local nonprofits, Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation and Price Philanthropies, who understand that providing much-needed affordable housing and impactful resident services is essential to maintaining a thriving community.

To honor the diverse residents of City Heights, including refugees and immigrants from around the world, ArtReach was asked to bring their expertise in directing community-activated mural projects to lead a brand new series of murals on the outside of City Heights Plaza del Sol, centering community participants in every step of the way. 

The result is a bold pop of color on the bustling corner of University Ave and Fairmount Ave spanning six panels of exquisite and resonant murals, designed by Baltézar and painted by over 100 community participants.

One of the core aspects of the ArtReach Mural Program’s process is the inclusion and prioritization of community design input. Through ArtReach-led listening sessions with neighbors, residents, and local organizations, Josué and the ArtReach Mural Team were able to meet community members, hear their stories, and gather ideas for the final mural design. Josué then used their direct input as inspiration for the artwork, which celebrates the rich diversity of City Heights while paying homage to the native land on which we stand. The mural imagery throughout these 6 panels features symbolism from Somalian, Ethiopian, Mexican, South East Asian, and Kumeyaay cultures. 

This mural at City Heights Plaza del Sol is just the latest of a series of six community-painted murals that ArtReach has led at schools and other neighborhood sites throughout District 9 over the last year. Because of this in-depth work, including notable projects at The Copley-Price Family YMCA (Artist: Hanna Gundrum) and The Little Flower (Artist: Regan Russell), ArtReach was recently awarded ‘Artists of Year’ at District 9’s State of the District event by City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera for engaging over 400 District 9 youth and community members in mural making, helping to transform this neighborhood, one wall at a time. 

Partnering with ArtReach San Diego was an easy decision for us due to their stellar reputation for involving local groups in every step of the process, ensuring their stories are accurately portrayed. Josué and the ArtReach team exceeded our expectations by actively engaging the City Heights community throughout our project. The result is a breathtaking mural series that beautifully captures the diverse spirit, culture, and essence of the neighborhood.

Cara Vereschagin, Project Manager, Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation, concludes, “We could not be more thrilled with the finished product!”

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Chula Vista artist creates new City Heights mural as a way to ‘show up’ for immigrant communities

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Josué Baltézar is a Mexican-American artist and designer who served as the lead muralist on a project for the Plaza del Sol apartment complex in City Heights

LISA DEADERICK | THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE

MARCH 2, 2024

Josue Baltezar on Feb. 29 at the six-panel mural on the Plaza del Sol apartment complex in City Heights. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Next to a chicken-and-waffles spot and a convenience story on Fairmount Avenue, between University and Polk avenues in City Heights, the wall of an apartment complex has a story to tell in six parts — and the lead artist on the project has his own story, too.

“Being able to create public art is a huge honor for me, especially when it’s a community-driven design that lives in a super diverse neighborhood,” says Josué Baltézar, muralist and visual artist. “The fact that the mural lives on the side of a new affordable housing complex made it even more special.”

After previously working on other murals with ArtReach, a local nonprofit providing community arts programming for children, families, and neighborhoods, the organization approached Baltézar about the City Heights project. (A mural dedication ceremony was originally scheduled for today, but has been postponed for a later date in April due to expected inclement weather.)

Baltézar, 32, specializes in murals, illustrations, and branding, with a commitment to working with people and organizations focused on social justice. He lives in Spring Valley with his girlfriend, Deb, and took some time to talk about his work on this project and how his own lived experience immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico informs his artistic perspective and the work he creates.

How would you describe your own relationship with City Heights and how did that inform the way you approached creating this mural?
I grew up in Chula Vista as an undocumented student for over a decade and felt both supported by my local community and marginalized by my immigration status. Because of my experience as an immigrant who feels that San Diego is my hometown (I arrived in the U.S. a few weeks before turning 6), and now as an American citizen, I feel a sense of responsibility to show up for immigrant communities. I’ve been fortunate to work on a few projects in City Heights, including teaching several youths from the area about creating public artwork, in collaboration with artists Leslie de La Torre and Andrea Castelo. I also recently designed the refreshed brand identity for Cafeina Cafe, a local coffee shop just a few blocks from the mural site. Although I didn’t grow up in City Heights, I feel a sense of belonging in the area. When I was asked to be the lead artist on this mural, I was excited and also hoped that the design would be well received by the people who would pass by this mural daily.

What I love about Spring Valley…

Where my girlfriend and I live now in Spring Valley we have some awesome neighbors that we’ve slowly been getting to know, and we’re close to friends and family in the South Bay.

What your process for conceptualizing this mural?
ArtReach collected design input from the community so that the mural would truly reflect the people who live there. We invited folks to attend a community listening session where they could tell us what living in the area means to them and how they’d like to be visually represented. For those who couldn’t make it in person, ArtReach also provided an online submission form. We got so many great answers; kids and people of all ages participated. That’s one of my favorite parts about creating a mural with ArtReach, the input from either the school, community, or business that we’re working with. Once we collected all of the responses, I looked for recurring words/phrases/themes and started thinking of ways to visually represent them. I also asked a few friends from City Heights if they could provide some guidance for some of the communities I wanted to represent.

The six panels represent some of the prominent cultural groups in the neighborhood, including Somalian, Ethiopian, Mexican, Kumeyaay, and Vietnamese. Can you talk about some of the symbols chosen to represent the cultures in their respective panels and why those images became the final version for this mural?
For the Somali community, I chose the King Protea flower and Haan containers [used by Somali nomads to hold water or milk] because the King Protea is the country’s national flower, and Haan containers are a cultural staple. Thankfully, I was able to ask a Somali friend for advice on this panel. For Ethiopia, I chose their national flower, the calla lily, as well as an endangered and endemic subspecies of mountain goat, the Walia ibex, to represent a supportive community surrounding the delicate nature of immigration. The papel picado elements [colorful sheets of paper with intricate cut-outs] on the Mexican panel represent food staples with nopales and maize, pre-Hispanic culture with the “ollin” symbol, cempasúchil (marigold) to represent our ancestors, and sun to represent positivity and life.

The Vietnamese lion dance and lotus flower lantern make up the Vietnamese panel (I also asked an artist friend for guidance on this panel). I aimed to pay homage to the fact we’re on unceded Kumeyaay land by showing oak leaves and acorns, staples for the Kumeyaay, along with the California quail, which is our state bird, to represent our local wildlife. The last panel features a leopard shark found along our beaches like La Jolla, surrounded by kelp, and two California least terns flying above that—an endangered species that nests in our Mission Bay/Pacific Beach areas. The overarching theme for all the panels is that diversity and migration can be very fragile, yet can be strengthened with community. I use vibrant subjects and wildlife to represent these themes, in the hopes that people can appreciate and want to learn more about the message and meaning behind the art.

How were you introduced to visual arts?
I’ve been drawing since I learned to read and write. My parents never discouraged me from drawing, and they encouraged and supported me when I leaned more heavily into art and design. I didn’t start painting until high school, where I took art as an elective. I don’t consider myself a strong writer and I don’t know how to play instruments (yet), so I felt that creating visual art was my way of expressing my creativity.

How would you describe your point of view, as an artist? And how do we see that point of view showing up in this mural in City Heights?
I like to use animals and wildlife to represent social justice values and, overall, try to paint either positive or optimistic scenes. I want my art to feel uplifting, especially when the subject matter is delicate or difficult. For this mural, I painted migration and diversity as strengths that make our community better, but some people believe the opposite is true. This mural is positive and also steadfast in its message.

What are some ways that growing up in San Diego has influenced who you are as an artist today?
Living in San Diego as an undocumented immigrant influenced the type of art I like to do, pulling from my Mexican heritage, the resiliency of immigrants, and the beautiful mix of coast, city, mountain, and desert that we have here.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
My dad always tells me, “Si vas a hacer algo, hazlo bien” which means “If you’re going to do something, do it well” and I try to carry that out, especially in my art.

What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?
I love animals and often include them in my artwork, but I’ve never had a pet! My girlfriend and I have talked about getting a dog; hopefully, we can do that sooner rather than later.

Please describe your ideal San Diego weekend.
My ideal weekend in San Diego would be grabbing coffee at Cafeina Cafe in City Heights early in the morning, riding my bike along the South Bay bike trail, playing soccer at the beach, working on a painting or drawing at home, seeing my friends, and spending time with my girlfriend and family.

Click to read the full article online >>

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SDG&E Unveils Mural by Local Artist at Rolando Substation

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AN SDG&E ELECTRIC SUBSTATION AT THE BORDER BETWEEN THE COMMUNITIES OF ROLANDO AND COLLEGE AREA WAS THE SITE OF A VISUAL UPGRADE BY A LOCAL MURAL ARTIST.

SDGE NEWS

FEBRUARY 15, 2024

Click to read the article online

This mural which depicts a path weaving through local wildlife, native plants and the hilly neighborhood surroundings of San Diego State University, was commissioned by SDG&E. A ribbon-cutting for the project was held Thursday, with San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera who represents District 9 where the art installation is located.

“Our beautification projects have always been a source of pride not only for our company but for the communities and neighborhoods that have benefitted from them,” said Estela de Llanos, SDG&E’s Vice President of Land and Environmental Services, and Chief Sustainability Officer. “We look forward to continuing our partnerships with various nonprofit organizations to beautify local neighborhoods with community-based art.”

This project was the result of a community-based collaboration between SDG&E and ArtReach, a nonprofit that ignites youth creativity through visual arts expression and community connection.

“Artists possess a special gift of being able to transform mundane spaces into beautiful reflections of a community’s rich history, culture and diversity,” said Sean Elo-Rivera, San Diego City Council President. “I thank the artist Katy Yeaw, ArtReach for sharing her gift with District 9 and SDG&E for their collaboration.”

The artwork was created by local artist Katy Yeaw in partnership with the ArtReach Mural Program. ArtReach and SDG&E gathered community input through listening sessions on what community members wanted to see reflected in the final mural design. The mural spotlights the historic paseos of the Rolando neighborhood which are the connecting walkways that weave throughout the community. One can find each paseo name referenced in the mural which include Agave, Hummingbird, Coyote, Oranges, Palms, Pines, Parrots, and Falcon.

“ArtReach has been so thrilled to bring community-inspired and painted murals to the College/Rolando Area over the last year,” said Isabel Halpern, ArtReach Mural Program Manager. “We are so thankful to SDG&E for supporting our mission of bringing more visual arts programs to youth at schools all over San Diego County through the funding of this beautification project.” 

SDG&E maintains over 160 substations across its service territory. These substations and pad-mounted transformers are critical to our energy delivery system. In certain instances, SDG&E’s infrastructure may be leveraged for community art. In the past five years, SDG&E has beautified a dozen of substations and pad mounts across the service territory, including locations in Vista (Melrose Substation), National City (National City Substation and National City gas riser), Imperial Beach (IB Substation), and Chula Vista (North Otay pad mount). SDG&E has also collaborated with community organizations on utility box beautification, including projects in Imperial Beach, Southeast San Diego, the Convoy District, and East Village.

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SDG&E Unveils New Mural in Rolando

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NBC 7’S NICOLE GOMEZ VISITED ARTREACH’S NEW MURAL IN ROLANDO DESIGNED BY ARTIST, KATY YEAW

NICOLE GOMEZ | NBC 7 SAN DIEGO

FEBRUARY 15, 2024

Click to view the full video

This mural project is a collaboration between SDG&E and visual arts education non-profit, ArtReach. Designed by San Diego artist and muralist, Katy Yeaw, using direct input from community members, this mural celebrates the close-knit neighborhood of the College/Rolando Area while bringing attention to local nature and wildlife.

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