Plaza del Sol // January 2024

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Plaza del Sol Affordable Housing // City Heights

Mural Artist: Josué Baltézar

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These 6 panels of murals, designed exquisitely by Josué Baltézar, are located on the outside of City Heights Plaza del Sol, a new affordable housing complex in City Heights, which provides affordable housing for 75 local families. In partnership with Wakeland Housing and Development and Price Philanthropies, ArtReach collected community input from local organizations and individuals to help inspire the mural design. The result is the stunning culmination that brings celebration to the diversity of City Heights while paying homage to the native land on which we stand. Over 100 community members also helped contribute to the painting of these murals during an ArtReach-led,  publicly activated Community Paint Day, inspiring people of all ages who came together in collective collaboration. 

Let’s dive deeper into the symbolism behind each mural panel which adorns the corner of University and Fairmount starting from left to right:

1) King Protea, the national flower of Somalia with mirroring, Haan (jugs used to carry milk, butter). This panel serves to represent resilience, growth, and adaptability of immigrant populations while honoring the Somalian population in City Heights.

2) Calla Lilies, the national flower of Ethiopia surround the endangered ibex looking out with strength and protection for our shared community. This panel shows the importance of the community looking out for each other. 

3) This celebratory panel of papel picado includes imagery of the marigold, corn staple crops, positive sun, prickly pear cactus, and the Ollin symbol of movement and migration. Celebrating Mexican culture, the focal point features the migratory monarch bringing importance and light to migratory peoples. 

4) Kumeyaay are the original inhabitants of the land we are on. The acorns and oak leaves, staples for the Kumeyaay, form the shape of a heart with our state bird of the California Quail. This panel honors the Kumeyaay as the native stewards of present day San Diego. 

5) This panel shows a traditional Vietnamese celebratory lion dance. The lion dance is symbolized to ward off negativity and to reflect good luck and prosperity. The lotus lantern above brings light to the lotus plant which is an important cultural symbol to many South East Asian cultures. 

6) The leopard shark and endangered California Least Tern marks the critical coastal environment of San Diego and serves to remind viewers about the importance of caring for our natural environment. 

Thank you to the 100+ people who painted with us on our Community Paint Day. We are honored to have brought this piece to life and to have had so much community design input and painting throughout the entire process. 

In all, these murals are an inspiration to us: a reminder that only something so beautiful can emerge from different stories,cultural backgrounds, and hands working together. 

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A Place to Belong // November 2023

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La Mesa United Methodist Children’s Center // La Mesa

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

A Place to Belong // November 2023
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A place to belong, a place to be loved. This is the central motto to La Mesa United Methodist Children’s Center preschool. It serves as a reminder to the community that all are welcomed to this special space. This mural was designed by Isabel Halpern using direct feedback from LMUMCC community and families. It was important to this community to have a mural that was bright, welcoming, and uplifting as it is located right at the drop-off and pick-up area that families use everyday- the first thing children see as they embark on a new and exciting day of preschool. This is shown with cheerful sunflowers, a bright orange sun, and groups of butterflies flying towards the entrance of the school. The hills in the background represent the City of La Mesa, also known as “The Jewel of the Hills” while two bold and simple doves fly across the sky. Together in unison, they represent family, spirituality, peace, and collaboration. We hope this mural serves as a cheerful pop of color for the entire La Mesa community and continues to remind all that this is a place that cherishes belonging, acceptance, and love.

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St. Rita’s Garden // November 2023

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St. Rita’s School // Lincoln Heights

Mural Artist: Esteban Sánchez

St. Rita's Garden // November 2023
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This lively and vibrant mural was a collaboration between St. Rita’s School and the ArtReach Mural Program. Designed by artist Esteban Sánchez, the mural was brought to life by the creative contributions of over 50 students from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade classes of 2023. Its purpose is to serve as a joyous and colorful backdrop for the preschool play area. The participating students not only took part in the actual painting process, but also played a key role in shaping the mural’s design. They engaged in ArtReach-led mural education workshops, where they shared their thoughts, ideas, and drawings, contributing to the overall vision of the final mural.

The mural, composed of various elements, depicts a welcoming garden filled with diverse plants, animals, and flowers. At its core stands the striking red rose which symbolizes St. Rita, the school’s patron saint. Nearby a bee takes flight and represents community, collaboration, and hard work. The mural is further adorned with vibrant daisies and sunflowers, adding cheerful bursts of color throughout, making a nod to the beauty and importance of our natural world. The hummingbirds, gracefully navigating the flowers, impart an element of peace and youthful lightheartedness to the design. Lastly, an eye-catching rainbow provides a colorful burst of wonder, a portal to students’ dreams and their bright imaginations. This mural stands as a vibrant testament and reminder of the diversity, joy, and unity within the St. Rita’s Catholic School community.

This project was made possible by the generous support of the Manitou Foundation.

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It Takes a Village // October 2023

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Copley-Price Family YMCA // City Heights

Mural Artist: Hanna Gundrum

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It takes a village to raise a child. This mural project was led by ArtReach in partnership with Children First Collective San Diego and the Copley-Price Family YMCA. Designed by muralist Hanna Gundrum, and painted by over 175 community members, this mural serves to joyfully welcome all to the Copley-Price YMCA. Painted just outside the preschool, it is dedicated to all the children, families, and child care providers of San Diego. It serves to tell a story about the importance of community care and advocacy through sheer resilience, nurturing, and hope when it comes to navigating the challenges and triumphs of child care.

Children First Collective San Diego is a coalition of organizations dedicated to tackling the challenges of access to affordable, quality child care in San Diego County. Monique Rosas, a devoted CFC Fellow, wanted to create a mural to bring awareness to the hardship that parents and caregivers encounter on the road to finding child care. The result of her vision is this striking, community-painted mural that brings awareness, resources, and hope to those on their own child care journeys.

From left to right we traverse the story of overcoming adversity through nurturing, community care, political advocacy, and eventual hopeful and bright triumph. Starting towards the left side of the mural, we see a night scene, raccoons cuddling up, weathering the long and rainy night – flickers of the moon and fireflies represent hope and persistence through challenging times. This scene also honors caregivers serving non-traditional hours. As we move onward, we see themes of nurturing and community care represented with the watering can, and village, with the phrase “It takes a village” recognizing and celebrating the incredible community of caregivers that care for our children. City Heights, in particular, has the most child caregivers per capita out of any other neighborhood in San Diego and this honors their essential work for keeping our communities thriving.

The red wagons represent the crucial political advocacy work and community action centered around access to child care, making reference to Margaret Brodkin, a leading child care advocate who organized hundreds of little red wagons to carry 68,000 voter signatures into San Francisco’s City Hall in 1991. By the end of that day, every single elected official called to personally endorse Margaret Brodkin’s child care campaign, and her efforts have since become a national model for child care advocacy. In this panel, an adult figure is walking in unison with a younger figure, pulling their wagons side-by-side, engaged in political action together.

As we make our way toward the end of the mural, we are greeted by a family biking in tandem and engaging in a healthy activity, almost as if they are biking right to the YMCA themselves. The YMCA statement of well being, shared by the littlest one in the family, reads: Well being is the pursuit of mental, physical, social, financial, spiritual, and environmental health. This wholesome understanding of wellness is a crucial reminder that the policies and practices we embrace ought to hold children, and their families, in their entirety. In the last panel, the sun is out, the clouds have parted, and the initial small sprout–having been watered and cared for–is a bright flower in full bloom. Through overcoming hardship through community care, ongoing political action, and remembering the importance of health and self-care, brighter days lie ahead for all of us.

This project was generously funded by Heising-Simons Foundation.

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Salaam // September 2023

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Iftin Charter School // City Heights

Mural Artist: Esteban Sánchez

Salaam // September 2023
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These vibrant and captivating murals were a collaborative effort between artist Esteban Sánchez and middle school students from Iftin Charter School. They stand as a celebration of the profound interconnectedness between the natural world and the rich tapestry of cultures that thrive within City Heights. Upon entering the campus, students are greeted by welcoming words in six different languages, reflecting the diverse cultures that call City Heights home: English, Spanish, Arabic, Somali, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. City Heights holds a unique place as a neighborhood that intersects numerous vibrant communities, including refugees from around the globe. These murals pay homage to these resilient populations.

At the heart of both murals are various animals native to East Africa, including the lion, hartebeest, elephant, giraffe, and, notably, the camel. Camels hold special significance in Somalia for their utility, and they symbolize traits such as survival, adaptability, travel, patience, and endurance—qualities embodied by many Iftin students. Surrounding the camel is the king protea, Somalia’s national flower, known for its remarkable toughness and resilience, capable of enduring prolonged droughts and harsh climates. Additionally, the murals feature both the rising sun and crescent moon, symbolizing new beginnings, growth, and renewal. The mesmerizing desert dunes that fill the mural’s background pay tribute to the desert landscapes characteristic of many East African and Middle Eastern countries, the places of origin for the majority of Iftin families. These dunes symbolize tranquility, serenity, and the power and beauty of nature. Finally, there is a nomadic family that can be seen traveling across the dunes. Like the nomads in the mural, many Iftin families have embarked on arduous journeys, traversing the world and enduring challenging circumstances. These murals serve as a tribute to their resilience as they continue their journey. All of these elements come together to inspire and instill a lasting sense of pride in one’s heritage and community in all current and future Iftin students.

This mural was at no cost to Iftin Charter School and was made possible in part by City Council District 9 and the ArtReach Mural Program.

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Majorette // March 2023

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Majorette Storefront // College Area

Mural Artist: Katy Yeaw

Majorette // March 2023
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The project was done in partnership with the College Area Business District and the lovely Majorette on El Cajon Blvd! Led by Katy Yeaw, who specializes in sign painting, we were thrilled to add this hand-painted lettering to their storefront. Working with our client, we helped create a bold, simple, and timeless feeling to the front of this bar through clean and stylized lettering. If you haven’t checked out Majorette yet in the College Area at 6344 El Cajon Blvd, swing on by for good friends and quality food!

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Stronger Together // July 2023

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Lemon Grove Academy Middle // Lemon Grove

Mural Artist: Josué Baltézar

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This bold and inspiring mural was created through the collaboration of artist Josué Baltézar and students from the 2023 Lemon Grove Academy Middle Summer Bridge Program. It is a vibrant and captivating celebration of the interconnectedness of the natural world that is all around us. The participating students not only painted the mural with care and focus, but they also inspired much of the design imagery during ArtReach-led student workshops as well.

At the heart of the artwork stands the proud LGAM mascot, a striking wolf, howling in a display of leadership and unity. The mural seamlessly integrates with LGAM’s core “P.A.C.K.” traits: persistent, authentic, courageous, and kind, which every student aspires to embody. The loyalty and strength of wolves represent pride in one’s community and above all, demonstrate the values held dear at LGAM. Surrounding the wolf, local flora take center stage, each plant contributing to the narrative, and showcasing the strength that lies in diversity. The mariposa lilies, cacti, agave, and kelp serve as powerful symbols of resilience and adaptability, paralleling the growth and transformation experienced by students during this transitional phase of their lives.

The mural also features a vibrant rendition of the iconic Lemon Grove lemon tree, which is deeply rooted in Lemon Grove’s identity, and represents the community’s shared heritage and pride. As students and staff enter the school, they are welcomed by the sight of two crows soaring near the radiant sun, whose warm and calming presence creates an atmosphere of hope, optimism, and positivity. Crows, being highly intelligent birds, serve as reminders of the pursuit of knowledge and the importance of learning at LGAM. With its harmonious blend of natural elements, this mural serves as a source of inspiration for all who pass by. It reminds students of their shared journey toward growth, leadership, and kindness within the embrace of their Lemon Grove community.

This mural was made possible by the generous support of Lemon Grove School District.

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Heart Bloom // June 2023

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The Little Flower // College Area

Mural Artist: Regan Russell

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Community is in bloom in the College Area! This mural project is in partnership with the College Area Business District at The Little Flower on the corner of El Cajon Blvd and 56th Street. Beautifully designed by Regan Russell, who lives just down the street from The Little Flower, this mural represents the heart and community of the College Area. Daisies, roses, and carnations fit together like a puzzle and form the shape of a heart. Bright and uplifting colors, some painted by the smallest of hands during our Community Paint Day, catch the eyes of all who drive or walk by. It is a joyful reminder of the love and companionship that can exist between neighbors and even strangers. Similarly to the different types of flowers coming together in the mural, we witnessed people painting together for the first time, local businesses contributing food and drink to share (Scrimshaw, Cheba Hut, and The Cravory), and countless people stopping by to talk and share stories.

This project has been incredibly special and we are grateful we could help bring this neighborhood together through painting and collaboration. A big thank you to MariaElena of The Little Flower for being a wonderful host and for trusting us with her wall space. Thank you to the College Area Business District and College Area Community Council for making this project possible. We are excited to continue to see all that blooms in the College Area. 

This mural was funded by the College Area Business District and the College Area Community Council.

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Exercise the Dream // June 2023

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Health Station // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

Exercise the Dream // June 2023
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Welcome to Health Station! This mural, designed by artist Isabel Halpern, invites visitors to the classroom space at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center with a burst of dynamic color. Painted by Chula Vista Elementary School 4th grade students during summer camp programming, this design encompasses a diverse range of athletic imagery, including the iconic Olympic rings, an expansive and stretching track, nature-inspired elements, and the Health Station logo. Health Station provides a unique learning experience for Chula Vista Elementary School District 4th grade students by offering insights and education into various careers in the athletic field and hands-on training within an Olympic-level elite facility.

This design draws inspiration from the renowned Olympic pictograms, which symbolize the spirit of the Olympics Games. These pictograms not only depict historic sports like track and field and rowing but also showcase Paralympic sports such as wheelchair racing and archery. The focal point pictogram scene features a sports medicine physician taping the ankle of an athlete, highlighting the importance of sports medicine within the training facility and showcasing this as a potential career path. While discovering potential careers, students at Health Station learn crucial lessons like taping ankles and making model prosthetics, connecting hands-on learning to real-life experiences.

One of the fundamental values that Health Station instills in students is the significance of movement and physical activity for a healthy lifestyle. This is shown through various elements and shapes of energetic motion as well as the red heart monitor line. Cloud shapes turn into water which turns into a sandy beach landscape – paying homage to the adjacent beach volleyball courts and the scenic Otay Lake, a peaceful view that is visible from the classroom.

This mural encapsulates the essence of movement, inclusivity, health, and teamwork in the lives of young athletes and students. As the track and field sprinter is beginning their race at the starting line, so are so many of the students that will come through Health Station- beginning their journeys of health education and career exploration.

This project was made possible by the City of Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Library through the Create Chula Vista Visual Arts Grant.

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The Artful Way // May 2023

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Roosevelt Middle School // Oceanside

Mural Artist: Lux Meteora

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This dynamic and radiant mural was created in collaboration with Mrs. Brayshaw’s advanced art class of 2023. Led and designed by Lead Artist Lux Meteora, this mural features a range of imagery from the visual and performing arts to the local natural landscape. The participating students not only painted the mural, but they also provided their ideas and vision for the final design during a series of ArtReach-led mural introduction workshops. 

As an Artful Learning school, RMS is committed to furthering its visual and performing arts education programs. This is reflected in the final mural design which predominantly features many symbols of the arts. The focal point of the mural is the dancer, who is depicted in a traditional ballet folklórico dress. This is an image that many of the students drew in their designs, and it draws a connection to the ballet folklórico rehearsals and performances that take place right in front of the mural space. It also connects to the bold red curtain on the left side of the mural, which directly represents theater/drama, but also frames the stage of every student’s world. The stars in the sky are a reminder to pursue one’s dreams and the flowing staff lines, musical notes, and instruments connect directly to the importance of RMS choir and band programs. The movement of the staff lines that connect to the movement of the dancer serves to represent the connection that the arts form between each other. Dancing, singing, acting, playing music, painting – when done together – the connections formed are transformational and can be for life.

In addition to the arts, students and staff emphasized the importance of the natural world in their design input, which Lux brought to life through her depiction of Guajome Regional Park and the local wildlife surrounding it: a peaceful ibis, the fluttering hummingbird, and the soaring golden eagle. Marigolds and California poppies are scattered throughout, and stretching across the sky, a stream of rainbow stripes serves to represent students of the LGBTQ+ community. Combining the excitement and movement of the performing arts with the peaceful elements of the natural world, this mural can inspire students to find their own inner artistic outlet through self expression and community connection.

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Crecemos Como Comunidad // April 2023

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Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Hanna Gundrum

Crecemos Como Comunidad // April 2023
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This vibrant and striking mural was created in collaboration with the Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School 6th grade class of 2023. Led and designed by Lead Artist Hanna Gundrum, this mural features an eclectic mix of imagery including the school’s mascot, a soccer ball, flowers, books, a paper airplane, a paint palette, and the CVLCC’s 25th-anniversary logo dedicating 25 years of learning in the community.

Over 120 6th-grade students contributed their time and focus in painting this stunning mural. In addition to painting, the participants also had the opportunity to contribute their ideas for what they envisioned on the final mural design during ArtReach-led mural introduction workshops. Inspired by student and staff input, Hanna created a scene that encompasses the many core values of the colorful CVLCC family: pride, growth, creativity, the arts, and community.

A direct student drawing, the paper airplane, symbolizes the 6th grade students’ flight and journey forward into middle school and the various flowers serve to symbolize their growth along the way. Specifically, the passion flower vine grows just around the corner in the school’s garden. The focal points of the calm jaguar and the school logo represent pride in belonging to the CVLCC family. A big and bright soccer ball serves to illustrate the love of sports and outdoor activities that occur in the field right next to the mural during and after school, while the paintbrush and palette are there to mark the creative arts. Finally, the phrases “We Grow Together” and “Crecemos Como Comunidad” highlight CVLCC’s unique position as a dual-language school and ultimately encompass a sense of belonging: that growth and achievement happen when working together.

This project was funded in part by the TahDah Foundation.

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Makers Space // April 2023

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Sound Station // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Dave ‘Persué’ Ross

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Designed by legendary graffiti artist Dave ‘Persué’ Ross, this piece welcomes all students to the immersive Makers Space within Sound Station. In this room, students will be tinkering, creating, and learning about a myriad of potential careers within the arts.

Persué’s design features some of his most iconic and recognizable characters, BunnyKitty and Rilla (the Gorilla), intermingling with musical elements, such as an electric guitar and a variety of speakers. This mural also ties into his other mural, which can be seen at the Len Moore Skatepark next door, that also features prominent characters BunnyKitty and Rilla. The skateboard that Rilla is riding on is a direct callout to the skatepark next door, as well as Persue’s lifelong involvement in the skateboarding community. Persué’s vibrant and dynamic mural is a playful and colorful addition to the Sound Station, and it will serve to inspire the many students that visit.

The Sound Station experience is a collaboration between the Chula Vista Elementary School District and the City of Chula Vista. The Sound Station aims to immerse students in the creative process while simultaneously identifying their strengths and interests in potential careers in Southern California’s burgeoning creative economy.

This project was made possible by the City of Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Library through the Create Chula Vista Visual Arts Grant.

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Welcome to Sound Station // April 2023

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Sound Station // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Regan Russell

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Welcome to Sound Station // April 2023 4C929443-332D-483B-BC1A-E18CE1F85B4A 55660F90-BBCD-4712-8390-C41E05CC1E05 EBF524E6-52FB-49A0-A4A7-26572D032A9A 453AD638-6406-4F9A-945F-5A4249DD81A4 IMG_4784 Large IMG_7128 Large

This welcome mural is the first thing that students will see as they enter Sound Station. Designed by artist Regan Russell, it creates an explosive and audible pop of kinetic sound.  The vibrant and bold colors, along with the text breaking through the wall, make the mural look the way one can imagine it would sound. Sound Station is a space that encourages young people to explore their creative passions and discover ways to turn them into a career in the arts.

Regan drew inspiration from the classic comic book art of the 1980s when designing the mural, which is evident in the keytar, laser beams, and retro rocket ship elements. The rocket ship represents the start of a new adventure, connecting to the students’ exploration of creative careers. One of the mural’s most striking features is the words appearing to break out of the wall, reflecting the disruptive and innovative nature of the arts. The broken walls symbolize the barriers and challenges that students will need to overcome, while the solar system and mysterious planet represent the endless possibilities of career choices. Regan’s design serves as a testament to the unapologetic creativity and boldness of careers in the arts. The mural welcomes all students to the unique and inspiring Sound Station space.

The Sound Station experience is a collaboration between the Chula Vista Elementary School District and the City of Chula Vista. The Sound Station aims to immerse students in the creative process while simultaneously identifying their strengths and interests in potential careers in Southern California’s burgeoning creative economy.

This project was made possible by the City of Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Library through the Create Chula Vista Visual Arts Grant.

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Your Dreams are Powerful // April 2023

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Sound Station // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Hanna Gundrum

Your Dreams are Powerful // April 2023
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This mural, designed by artist Hanna Gundrum, is the final stop for students on their field trip experience at Sound Station -this room is where they will decide on which potential career in the arts they wish to pursue.

Hanna’s mural design showcases the diverse options available to students at Sound Station, including music production, sound engineering, graphic design, musical performance, and illustration. These options are represented by the record, computer, microphone, trumpet, guitar, and hand holding a pencil. A cool character can be seen skating through the scene, absorbed in the journey and the music, tying everything together. The bright and uplifting color palette symbolizes the bright future ahead for students pursuing a career in the arts. The computer screen’s motivational message, “Your Dreams are Powerful,” reinforces Hanna’s message that every student’s dreams are worth pursuing, and they are capable of making them come to life.

Hanna wants every student who enters this space to know that their dreams are powerful and they have the potential to achieve them.

The Sound Station experience is a collaboration between the Chula Vista Elementary School District and the City of Chula Vista. The Sound Station aims to immerse students in the creative process while simultaneously identifying their strengths and interests in potential careers in Southern California’s burgeoning creative economy.

This project was made possible by the City of Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Library through the Create Chula Vista Visual Arts Grant.

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Legacy // March 2023

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Rosebank Elementary // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Josué Baltézar

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This mural was created with the Rosebank Elementary 6th grade class of 2023. This bold, bright, and beautiful design by Lead Artist Josué Baltézar (a Rosebank Elementary alum!) creates a stunning piece for this active area of campus.

In addition to painting the mural, the 6th grade students also had an opportunity to offer their own design ideas for what they wanted to see on this wall space. Drawing on inspiration from both students and staff, Josué created a scene of the Chula Vista landscape: the ocean, mountains, living coast, and joyful sun. The cresting wave imagery symbolizes forward movement and success, while the broader concept of water represents resilience and our shared humanity. The mirroring coral plants are symbols of community and oneness: working together to build something bigger than ourselves. Of course, the focal point of the mural is the mascot of Rosebank: the calm panther looking towards the horizon, instilling both school and individual pride in all students. Many 6th grade participants drew birds, which Josué included as a representation of hope and of each student’s unique flight and journey throughout elementary school and their future educational careers. Lastly, there are various different plants throughout, symbolizing transformation, growth, and diversity.

The five roses in this design each represent one of Rosebank’s 5 core values: Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, and Perseverance. We hope that when students walk by this mural, they will be reminded of these 5 values and of their own potential for growth. This mural is a celebration of the legacy that Rosebank students are creating, and of the Rosebank community as a whole.

This project was made possible by the City of Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Library through the Create Chula Vista Visual Arts Grant and with support from Gensler San Diego.

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¡Bienvenidos! We are Lauderbach // February 2023

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J. Calvin Lauderbach Elementary // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Josué Baltézar

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Welcome and Bienvenidos to J. Calvin Lauderbach Elementary! A school of transformation, growth, collaboration, and rootedness. Designed by Lead Muralist Josué Baltézar, who grew up in Chula Vista himself, this mural serves to welcome all to a bright and lively school community. Over 100 6th-grade students from the class of 2023 contributed their time, care, and focus on painting this mural. Not only did the participating students paint much of the wall, but they also helped inspire the design during ArtReach-led workshops by sharing their words, ideas, and drawings of what they could envision for the front of their school. The result is this stunning and colorful legacy mural, painted by their very own hands.

From left to right, we start with the larger-than-life, Opuntia (prickly pear cactus) which represents the strength and resilience that Lauderbach students and community carry within them. Joyful Papel Picado (perforated paper) with three birds rests above the door. These three birds not only symbolize journey and destination, but also distinctly stand for 3 generations of Lauderbach families and the deep-rootedness of this community as a whole.

The Lauderbach Cougar, representing school pride, sits and looks towards a hopeful and bright horizon, surrounded by the golden blooms of our state flower, the California poppy. Above the windows is an homage to the City of Chula Vista by a rendered visual tie to the city logo, further encompassing Chula Vista pride. Lastly, the word Bienvenidos (Welcome) can be seen right at the pickup/drop off area. This marks Lauderbach’s unique position as a dual language immersion school and also welcomes all to the Lauderbach Family. This imaginative mural is a bold reminder of what can be achieved when many people collaborate with care and connection. Above all, it is a reminder to all students that just like the powerful and growing Opuntia, they also carry within themselves their own potential for growth, transformation, and the ability to bloom.

This project was made possible by the City of Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Library through the Create Chula Vista Visual Arts Grant.

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You Are Loved // January 2023

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Nativity Prep Academy // College Area

Mural Artist: Regan Russell

You Are Loved // January 2023
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These murals were painted by 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students in an after-school program. Designed by Lead Artist Regan Russell, the murals welcome all to an uplifting, colorful, and transformative campus. Not only did the participating students help paint the mural, but they co-created the various imagery shown on the two mural walls.

The main mural wall shows doves in flight carrying olive branches. The doves symbolize the Holy Spirit and also double to represent peace. They are carrying the branches together, collaborating, illustrating the deep-rooted and connected Nativity Prep community and family. The doves fly toward the centered Guiding Star, which is also one out of eleven total stars on the main mural wall. Nativity Prep students are first generation students. Eleven stars represent Nativity Prep’s 11-year commitment, each representing one year of a student’s journey toward their college graduation. Lastly, the three crowns on the right give light and importance to the school’s mascot, The Magi. The Magi serve as a reminder to believe in blessings, trust the journey, follow our guiding lights and in doing so, create lives of opportunity, choice, and service.

Just around the corner, at the entrance to the Mentoring Space and adjacent to a cross, reads in big and bright letters: “You are Loved”. As a community of faith, love is a lived experience at Nativity Prep. All are welcome, all are loved.

This mural project was funded by the generous support of the Lawrence A. Appley Foundation.

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Building a Better World // December 2022

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Conway Elementary // Escondido

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

Building a Better World // December 2022
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This mural was led by Isabel Halpern and created with Conway Elementary students from the after-school YMCA Expanded Learning Program, LEGENDS. Not only did the participating students help paint the mural, but they helped come up with the imagery shown through the actions of the different figures. From left to right one can see different characteristics of EPIC (Excellence, Perseverance, Integrity, and Compassion) in action: planting seeds in the school garden, advocating for social issues in the community, following dreams through creativity, and helping each other up with care. A paper airplane, a direct student drawing, flies high in the sky and adds a playful element representing the journey of going after our aspirations. A big sun represents joy and hope and different natural elements can be seen throughout: sprouts growing into plants, water drops of rain, stars in the sky, rivers, hills, and butterflies. All of the figures show different examples of what it takes to build a better world- contributing to themselves, their community, and to each other with compassion and connection. 

Which figure do you relate to most in this mural?

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Morning Has Broken // November 2022

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St. Katharine Drexel Academy // College Area

Mural Artist: Nina Lubarsky

Morning Has Broken // November 2022
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This mural was collaboratively painted and inspired by the St. Katharine Drexel Academy 8th grade class of 2023. Led and designed by artist Nina Lubarsky, this piece serves to welcome all to a peaceful and uplifting place of growth. A crucial step in the mural process was gathering words, ideas, themes, and actual drawings from the participating students and SKDA staff to help inspire the design imagery. Students drew various plants, trees, suns, and of course, their school mascot of the powerful phoenix.

A skilled and practicing printmaker, Nina Lubarsky rendered this design in the style of a carved relief print, echoing the ancient art of block printing. A mighty phoenix, symbolizing rebirth and transformation, is bursting with pride. Its wings stretched wide, it is set against a big sun- a perfect full circle that signifies family and unity. The rest of the mural is filled with native plants: the resilient and healing aloe vera and California coastal oak tree. Poppies are blooming, bees are buzzing, and sage grows energetically towards the sun. Located in the center of campus and facing the neighborhood community, it serves as a daily reminder to students of their own continued expansion and inner strength.

This mural was funded by Russo Properties, Ltd., College Area Community Council, and District 9 Arts, Culture & Community Festivals.

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Ourselves, Each Other, Community // September 2022

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Lemon Grove Academy Elementary // Lemon Grove

Mural Artist: Katy Yeaw

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We take care of ourselves. We take care of each other. We take care of our community. This is the school-wide motto of Lemon Grove Academy Elementary. This mural was painted by over 75 students from the 6th grade classes of 2023. Led and designed by Katy Yeaw, this piece serves to welcome all to a colorful, uplifting, and compassionate campus. The participating students played a direct role in helping design this mural by giving their words, drawings, and ideas. They also contributed their care and focus by helping to physically paint much of the mural walls.

Throughout the mural imagery, we can see an abundance of self and community care. Watering the garden. Reading in solitude. The importance of family. Older students helping younger students as shown with the two tigers (big buddy and little buddy) walking together in unison. Birds in flight showing that everyone has the potential to soar. The abundance of plants and foliage symbolizes growth and transformation while subtle lemon tree imagery marks community pride in the City of Lemon Grove. In full, this mural is a daily reminder of the crucial practice of care and kindness. That students flourish here when surrounded by mutual, self, and community care.

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The Jazz Lounge Storefront Mural Project // August 2022

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Mural Artist Apprenticeship Program // College Area

Mural Artist: Chloe Moya

The Jazz Lounge Storefront Mural Project // August 2022
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This storefront mural project is located on El Cajon Blvd in the College Area Business District. The mural was fully designed and led by Chloe Moya as part of the Mural Artist Apprenticeship Program. Chloe designed this mural with imagery inspiration from our client focusing on mid-century feels and geometric and organic patterns flowing smoothly along the trim. In partnership with the College Area Business District, ArtReach is thrilled to have added this energetic transformation to this neat little block which includes Little Fish Comic Book Studio and The Jazz Lounge. After assisting on 10+ projects, we want to congratulate Chloe for designing and leading her first project with ArtReach!

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Welcome to Rohr! // August 2022

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Fred H. Rohr Elementary // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Liesel Plambeck

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Welcome to Fred H. Rohr Elementary! A school of transformation, growth, kindness, and collaboration. Led by Liesel Plambeck, this mural serves to welcome all to a special space.

Over fifty 5th and 6th grade students from the classes of 2022 contributed their time, care, and focus on painting this mural. Not only did the participating students paint much of the wall, but they also helped inspire the design through pre-painting mural workshops by sharing their words, ideas, and drawings for what they could see for the front of their school. The result is this stunning and colorful legacy mural stretching across the whole front of the campus. 

This mural features lion pride with the larger than life school mascot of the Rohr Lion looking out to the horizon, but there is a lot more to be found in this work. The importance of our natural world can be seen with different flowers and a sea of jungle palms. All of these plants represent growth and the flowers serve to bring an uplifting and joyful feeling right as you enter the school. The big stars floating in the sky symbolize youth and collective goals and dreams. The word “Welcome” can be seen from far away and it is there of course, right at the front office, to welcome all to the Rohr Family. In all, this mural is a big reminder of what can be achieved when many people collaborate together with kindness and dedication. 

This project was made possible in part by the City of Chula Vista and the Create Chula Vista Arts Grant.

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YMCA Lincoln Apartments // July 2022

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YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES ESCONDIDO HOUSING PROGRAM

Mural Artists: Donald Gould + Regan Russell

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Resilient and larger-than-life desert plants of agave, aloe, prickly pear, and aeoniums grow tall from the earth. A topographical map pattern makes up the background. Calming yet bright colors throughout the design tie directly to the colors on each individual door in this apartment complex.

These murals were led and designed by artists Donald Gould and Regan Russell. While collecting design input from youth residents who live here, many residents answered with a variety of responses using their own art and words. Among their answers were drawings of plants, expressions of calm, of being on a journey, of meditation. One theme in particular kept emerging and that was the theme of resilience: “I was thinking of putting in a desert landscape- to show that even though the desert sometimes feels like there is nothing there, we go on living and go on surviving.” What we see is just that. Powerful desert plants grow strong together and the topography lines subtly allude to the many layers, paths, and future destinations of our collective and individual journeys.

Not only did youth residents help contribute with the mural design imagery, but they also physically painted the lower portions of the main wall during a Community Paint Day hosted by ArtReach. Through collective care and contribution, residents have this daily reminder of their own resilience while tending to, nurturing, growing, and planting their current and future dreams.

The ArtReach Mural Program and Mural Artists are honored to have helped contribute to the transformation of such an important home for current and future residents.

This mural was fully funded by the Lawrence A. Appley Foundation.

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Making Friends // June 2022

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MUSEUM SCHOOL // BANKERS HILL

Mural Artists: Isabel Halpern + Chloe Moya

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Welcome to St. Paul’s Park! This mural was painted by The Museum School 1st grade class of 2022. Led by artists Chloe Moya and Isabel Halpern, this piece serves to welcome all to a colorful, bright, and joyful playground. The 1st grade students played a direct role in helping design this mural by sharing their words, drawings, and ideas. Not only did they help inspire the design, but they also helped paint the entire wall! The themes present in this design touch on sharing, collaboration, creativity, kindness, growth, and togetherness. Different hands can be seen across the wall- all engaged in various activities that further enhance these themes: growing a flower, holding hands in trust, making friends with a bird, and creating a drawing on paper. Every flower on this wall is the exact drawing from a 1st grade student and large, joyful, and colorful shapes make up the background.

As a legacy gift to their whole school community, the 1st grade artists painted this mural with excitement, care, and compassion. It serves as a big representation of a true neighborhood collaboration. St. Paul’s Senior Services offered the wall, The Museum School students helped paint it, and ArtReach brought it all together with design and project leadership. It reminds us of the importance of friendship and collaboration- that beautiful friendships grow out of helping and listening to each other.

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Dream Big // June 2022

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ROWAN ELEMENTARY // AZALEA PARK

Mural Artist: Hanna Gundrum

Dream Big :: June 2022
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This mural was painted by the Rowan  Elementary 5th grade class of 2022. Led by artist Hanna Gundrum, this piece serves to welcome all to a colorful and joyful campus. The 5th grade students played a direct role in helping design this mural by giving their words, drawings, and ideas. Some of the many images that students created were suns, roses, flowers, and the mascot of the roadrunner. As a legacy gift to their whole school community, the 5th grade artists painted this mural with care and compassion. It serves as a big representation of running fast after dreams. It reminds us of the importance of friendship and collaboration- that beautiful things grow out of listening to each other.

This mural was funded in part by Dahlin Group Architecture and the TahDah Foundation.

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Above and Below the Ocean // May 2022

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TOLER ELEMENTARY // CLAIREMONT

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

Above and Below the Ocean // May 2022
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This mural was painted by the Toler Elementary 5th grade class of 2022. Led by artist Isabel Halpern, this piece serves to welcome all to a colorful and joyful campus. The 5th grade students played a direct role in the design of this mural. During their mural design workshops, students created many of the images you see here using scissors, paper, and glue. Inspired by the paper cutouts of artist Henri Matisse, students used their imaginations to create all things under and above the ocean. Some of the many images that students made were an anglerfish exploring down below, jellyfish with long wiggly legs, a big tiger shark following a school of fish, a sailboat with the sweetest of sails, large collaged suns, and birds in flight. As a legacy gift to their whole school community, the 5th grade artists painted this mural with care and compassion. It serves as a big reminder and representation of all of the living beings that come from the sea. It reminds us of the importance of taking care of our environment and the big blue ocean which is mere blocks away from Toler Elementary.

This mural was funded by the Toler Elementary PTA.

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Seeds to Stars // April 2022

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SYCAMORE CANYON ELEMENTARY // SANTEE

Mural Artist: Lux Meteora

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The Sycamore Canyon Mural Club of 2022 painted this mural designed by multi-disciplinary artist Lux Meteora. This piece serves to welcome all to a colorful and transformative campus. The participating student artists played a direct role in the design of this mural. As a group, they decided collaboratively on different themes and images to help represent Sycamore Canyon. Various metamorphoses are seen throughout this mural: A caterpillar to a butterfly. A cub to a cougar. An egg to a chicken. A sycamore seed to a full-grown tree. These transformations reminds us that change is constant and that school is a place for growth. Hills, creeks, and lakes of the Santee landscape make up the soothing background. Morning turns to day and day turns to night. The big night sky reminds us all to look up and see what we can find up there: comets, planets, constellations, and an anchor to honor the military families of Sycamore Canyon School. It reminds us that any dream we can imagine, we can achieve.

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Dream, Discover, Read // April 2022

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FLETCHER ELEMENTARY // LINDA VISTA

Mural Artist: Nazanin Amiri Meers

Dream, Discover, Read // April 2022
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Books bring us to new worlds that we can only travel to through reading. The Fletcher Elementary 5th grade class of 2022 helped paint and design this mural. As a legacy gift to their whole school community, this wall is full of soothing colors and exciting adventures. Led by artist Nazanin Amiri Meers, this mural focuses on the importance and joy of reading. It shows that books can directly open the doors to learning, discovery, and imagination. The Fletcher Falcon rests peacefully in the center of the mural, observing the dreamlike scene. And what are the figures doing? Sailing on the sea, flying through the air on a pencil, reading in the grass, and reaching for the moon. It reminds us that we can achieve our dreams through education, hard work, and actively looking out toward the surrounding world. 

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6th Grade Legacy Mural // March 2022

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SAN ALTOS ELEMENTARY // LEMON GROVE

Mural Artist: Hanna Gundrum

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The 6th grade class of 2022 at San Altos Elementary helped paint and design this 4-wall mural. As a legacy gift to the whole school community, these four walls celebrate growth, exploration, and transformation. Led by artist Hanna Gundrum, the mural spans the four main buildings in the center of campus, adding a joyful and colorful backdrop to student activities. The hummingbird and Yin-Yang motif were taken directly from student design input and also serve as a reminder of the importance of peaceful balance. In honor of San Altos’ tradition of the yearly release and study of monarch butterflies, the butterfly on Wall 2 symbolizes constant growth and transformation. The school mascot, a coyote, can be seen exploring the desert landscape in Wall 1. Surrounded by stars and the moon, this mural art reminds all students to keep exploring and to keep going after their dreams. 

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Grow // February 2022

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Monterey Heights Elementary // Lemon Grove

Mural Artist: Milan Finnie

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Monterey Heights 6th grade class of 2022 contributed their designs, skills, and creativity as a legacy gift to their whole school community. Led by artist Milan Finnie, this piece celebrates growth and transformation. The mural features plants native to Lemon Grove – many taken right from this very campus of Monterey Heights: Crown Daisy, Indian Blanket, Musky Stork’s Bill, and the Small Philippine Acacia. The artful plants help connect us to the surrounding environment while also emphasizing the importance of taking care of our earth and the natural world.

This mural also incorporates key elements of Monterey Heights STEAM subjects – all drawings by 6th grade student artists: a cassette tape, a beaker, and even Tetris pieces. Gears clicking, experiments bubbling, a paintbrush ready for canvas, and a song waiting to be heard. The bright sun focal point brings joy and hope to all who see it while the Tetris pieces are on a journey of finding their way and falling into place.

What plants and flowers from the mural can you find on your school campus?

This mural was funded in part by the TahDah Foundation.

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John J. Montgomery Welcome Mural // January 2022

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John J. Elementary // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Liesel Plambeck

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Welcome to John J. Montgomery Elementary in Chula Vista. This pop of color on the wall is the first thing you see as you walk into school. Designed by Liesel Plambeck, this welcome mural was painted by the entire 6th grade class. 

The students also helped inspire the mural imagery through pre-painting mural workshops. Repeating themes of ocean, sun, waves, and palm trees were seen in the student drawing ideas. Many students also drew their school mascot of the eagle as you can see flying across the sun. With Montgomery being an arts-focused school, this is represented with the paintbrush imagery.

The 6th grade students did such an amazing job on their legacy project. What a beautiful gift to give before going to middle school.

This mural was funded in part by Turnaround Arts: CA.

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The Brightest View // January 2022

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Pacific View Leadership Elementary // Paradise Hills

Mural Artist: Hanna Gundrum

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This mural was started in March of 2020. It was put on hold due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and was finally completed two years later. All of the imagery in this mural, designed by Hanna Gundrum, was inspired by student words and drawings. This bright and uplifting mural is a symbol of perseverance and resilience. A beacon of hope and optimism. After two difficult years, ArtReach and Pacific View Leadership Elementary were able to come together at last. In person and in collaboration, this was a huge community effort to bring this project to life. Over 40 students from the Pacific View 5th grade class of 2022 helped paint this mural. They worked with focus and care and painted almost the entire bottom half. The imagery touches on themes of nature, acceptance, welcomeness, communication, music, reading, and going after our dreams. 

Looking at the mural, what do you see? What images bring you hope and happiness?

This mural was funded in part by the TahDah Foundation.

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Sun to Sun // May 2019

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Mt. Everest Academy // Clairemont

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

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Mt. Everest Academy’s very own 133-foot long mural welcomes both students and neighbors alike to an accepting, colorful, and transformative campus. This was the ArtReach Mural Program’s first big mural. It was painted and helped designed by a group of seniors at the school. Led by Isabel Halpern, over 50 people helped paint this mural- from staff to families to younger students. Sun to Sun celebrates collaboration, transformation, growth, acceptance, and community. It serves as a hallmark project for the ArtReach Mural Program. 

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Unity of the Indigenous // June 2019

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SCAIR // Old Town

Mural Artists: Donald Gould + Regan Russell

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Led by Regan Russell and Donald Gould, this mural is located in the Sa’mall Lly Hapsh Garden space located at the Ballard Parent Center in Old Town, San Diego. Bold colors and powerful imagery celebrate and honor the local Kumeyaay culture. For six weeks, 12-15 youth and families from The Southern California American Indian Resource Center (SCAIR, Inc) met with the artists to learn about mural making from start to finish. 

Inspired by local Kumeaay culture, the mural incorporates imagery pertaining to the local landscape, culturally significant and sacred items, Native stories, as well as tobacco plants. SCAIR’s Sacred Pipe TUPE Program emphasizes the difference between commercial tobacco and ceremonial tobacco, and overall health and wellness for Native youth. This project is an opportunity for visitors to the Old Town area to better understand the customs, traditions and values of local Kumeyaay people who were the original inhabitants of the land Old Town sits on. This mural serves as a legacy project and helps contribute to the growing visibility of American Indian culture in the larger community. 

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It wasn’t a dream. It was a place. // December 2019

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YMCA Oz // Clairemont

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

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YMCA Oz is a special space that provides healing and unification to youth and their families through a residential program. This program helps teens and their families who are experiencing personal, school or family difficulties as well as runaway or homeless youth seeking a safe place. Part of their enrichment includes art making.

Youth and staff from YMCA Oz came up with various themes and imagery of what Oz meant to them: waves, poppies, helping hands, home, water ripples, and asleep vs. awake. All can be found in their new 109-foot long mural that stretches the whole backyard. Led by Isabel Halpern of ArtReach, the youth not only helped with the design; they also primed the wall and spent many hours painting every last inch of it. Over 60 people worked on this mural including additional staff volunteers from YMCA Youth and Family Services. A true collaborative effort. Rich colors, calming shapes, and intentional symbols make up the flow of the mural. The greens throughout were chosen to represent Emerald City and to double as the designated mental health awareness color. From one side of the wall to the other, one can see many repeating water ripples, 100 exactly. Each water ripple represents 100 people making a total of 10,000 people. YMCA Oz, approaching their 50th anniversary soon, has impacted 10,000 people over the last 50 years. The ArtReach Mural Program is honored to show this ripple effect and to have created alongside youth and staff from Oz, bringing their ideas and visions onto the wall.  

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What Makes Your Heart Happy? // January 2020

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Carson Elementary // Linda Vista

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

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What makes your heart happy? Students at Carson Elementary were asked this question on their first day of Mural Club. After getting paper shapes and scissors, the kids responded by making planets, sailboats, robots, trees, fruit, rocket ships and more. Much of what they made was directly transferred into the design of their new fun and playful mural. The ArtReach Mural Program prides itself in involving students in mural making from concept to completion. We absolutely love, for example, how we, adults, could have never made a palm tree like the one you see here. Only a kid could have placed those palm shapes ever so freely. Paper shapes made by hands, now painted by those same hands on the wall. Robot lemon moonbeam dreams.

In addition to designing and painting their mural, students also were engaged in individual take-home art projects during the Mural Club. As with all of our murals, we celebrated when it was finished by having a ribbon cutting and unveiling event. Parents, grandparents, siblings, and teachers/staff from the Carson school community came together to celebrate the youth who added new art to their school. Each student got their own certificate and there was much joy to be had. Hooray Mural!

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USD Off-Campus Student Housing // August 2020

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the carl. // Linda Vista

Mural Artist: Hanna Gundrum

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This mural was commissioned for the roof hang out area of a new USD off-campus student housing apartment complex called the carl. A mix of geometric shapes and patterns with plant and wave-y feels, it adds a bright and fun backdrop to those hanging out up on the roof. Designed by Hanna Gundrum, this mural included our first ever teen apprentice who assisted on painting from start to finish.

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El Nido // November 2020

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El Nido // City Heights

Mural Artist: Lulu Yueming Qu

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El Nido in Spanish means The Nest. A place of safety, shelter, and of home. This mural is located in the multi-use computer room and classroom space at a local women’s shelter. It was designed by Lulu Yueming Qu with design input and painting assistance by two teens who live at El Nido. For the design, we discussed themes of home, growth, light, and strength, while also acknowledging the ups and downs that come with life. The purple lines, influenced by Lulu’s study of traditional Chinese painting, serve as a connector between all of these themes. Purple is also the color for domestic violence awareness and the community is lucky to have this safe space which provides housing and social services to women and their families as they transition to permanent housing. 

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One Vista // January 2021

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Vista La Mesa Academy // Lemon Grove

Mural Artists: Donald Gould + Regan Russell

One Vista // January 2021
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One unified cheetah. The mascot of Vista La Mesa Academy runs across the wall. Composed of multiple pieces of different shapes, sizes, and colors, the cheetah represents the harmony, togetherness, and diversity of the school’s community. Lemon tree foliage of moving leaves and budding blossoms symbolize growth and transitions while also giving homage to the city of Lemon Grove’s agricultural ties and history. Designed by Regan Russell and Donald Gould, this mural was inspired directly from drawings and words submitted virtually by the students and staff. During a time where meeting in person was not an option, ArtReach and Vista La Mesa Academy were able to come together to bring light and joy to the front and center, welcoming students back to school with cheetah pride, hope, and unity.

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7th Grade Mural Project // February 2021

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PRIDE Academy // Santee

Mural Artist: Hanna Gundrum

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A lightbulb of color. A caterpillar inching through the rain to become a butterfly. A strong and sturdy anchor. An anatomical heart with patterns of flowers. These are some of the many images and symbols that make up this two-wall youth-designed and painted mural. Hanna Gundrum led the 7th-grade students to work together to come up with the stunning imagery. They contributed their time, care, and focus in helping paint these two large walls from top to bottom. This mural adds bright positivity, bold color, and uplifting feelings, serving as a welcoming addition to the upper part of campus and nearby preschool. Leaving a lasting gift and contribution to their school community, the 7th grade class of 2020/21 truly came together to share their ideas and collaborate on new hope and perseverance during this unique and difficult year. What symbol or section do you connect to most on this mural?

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Looking Toward the Horizon // February 2021

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John J. Montgomery Elementary // Chula Vista

Mural Artist: Liesel Plambeck

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Musical instruments, eagles, rainbows, hands, and people looking out together in unity. These are some images from the many drawings students submitted from home to help inspire the design of this mural, led Liesel Plambeck. Sifting through their drawings and words and hearing from Montgomery staff, it was clear to Liesel that this school is a special space. One of togetherness, one of family, of school pride, welcomeness, collaboration, and diversity. Furthermore, it was evident that the Montgomery school environment places immersive importance on the arts. Almost every other drawing collected from students contained a musical instrument, a hand, or a paintbrush. ArtReach wanted to show this collective story through this mural. A story of students united together, looking to the creativity in the horizon, to a new day, to all perspectives and ways of seeing. 

This mural was funded in part by Turnaround Arts: CA.

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Leaders in Us // March 2021

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San Miguel Elementary // Lemon Grove

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

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Designed by Isabel Halpern, this mural serves as a welcome back piece to students returning to school after over a year of distance learning. Inspired by words and drawings collected from students, staff, and families, and by the 8 Leader in Me habits, the imagery in this mural inspires students and staff alike to look towards each other with a sense of calm, balance, synergy, leadership, acceptance, and collaboration. Symmetrical plants and budding prickly pear cacti remind all that growth and transformation are possible and constant. We hope that students can see themselves in the figures, excelling in the arts, offering seeds of ideas, and forming leadership, together around the bright light of learning.

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We are San Altos // May 2021

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San Altos Elementary // Lemon Grove

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

We are San Altos // May 2021
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San Altos is a school of transformation, growth, acceptance, and kindness. Led by Isabel Halpern, this mural serves to welcome all to a special space. Over forty 6th grade students from the class of 2021 contributed their time, care, and focus on painting this mural. 

The mural features coyote pride with the mascot front and center, but there is a lot more to be found in this work. The importance of our natural world can be seen with different California landscapes: wetlands, deserts, mountains, and oceans. Lemons are a tribute to Lemon Grove and the great California state flower of the poppy is sprinkled throughout. The mural also highlights transformation with the life cycle of the butterfly. How many caterpillars can you find on the wall? 

San Altos staff, during a staff-wide design input meeting, wanted to emphasize a  big focus on literacy and reading through book imagery. Reading can help you soar, it can help you fly. But most importantly, there was a need for showing inclusion, kindness, and acceptance. Puzzle pieces, representing the symbol of students with special needs are represented in the mural while a small butterfly rests on the nose of the coyote. This is a school where coyotes and butterflies can be and are friends. Where all students are accepted and an important piece of the puzzle that completes and makes San Altos the special school that it is.

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What Makes Us CHET // May 2021

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Chet F. Harritt School // Santee

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

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This mural was designed and painted by a group of 7th and 8th grade artists. Led by Isabel Halpern, this mural serves to welcome all to a colorful and transformative campus. The students played a direct role in the design of this mural. As a group, they decided collaboratively on four themes that represent Chet : The Cheetah, Nature of Santee, STEAM, and Togetherness/Kindness. After deciding on the themes, smaller groups of 2 or 3 students, each got to then work on specifically what goes inside each letter with their corresponding theme. The groups spent much time and care and focus sketching out their ideas and drawings for what should go inside each letter. What we see and what they came up with is the Chet Cheetah in “C” looking out towards the horizon- to the beautiful nature seen in Santee and on field trips to Big Rock Park (“H”). The “E” shows all of the elements of Chet being a proud and thriving STEAM school, with math, technology, art, engineering, and science symbolism. And lastly, the “T” shows togetherness. Holding hands reaching out in support, acceptance, and collaboration. A closed eye breathing through difficult times, with tears as raindrops watering and changing into the hope and newness of a growing flower. 

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8th Grade Garden Mural Project // June 2021

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PRIDE Academy // Santee

Mural Artist: Hanna Gundrum

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This bright, bold, and colorful garden mural celebrates growth, transformation, healthy eating, and nature!  Hanna Gundrum led the 8th grade students to work together to come up with much of the imagery seen here: bright daisies, strawberries with bites taken out of them, a camouflaged gecko, and more. The 8th grade mural artists spent 4 paint sessions painting the majority of this long stretch of wall with focus, creativity, enthusiasm, and care. This mural is a reminder of the benefits of teamwork : it could not have happened without everyone working together in collaboration. This work serves as a legacy piece for the 8th graders: a contribution and gift to PRIDE before they leave for high school. As the seasons change, new seeds will be planted, and new growth will occur. This big new mural will continue to help cultivate this garden space as one for reflection, gathering, and tending the earth. 

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The Rose That Grew From Concrete // July 2021

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REACH Academy // El Cajon

Mural Artists: Donald Gould + Regan Russell

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Did you hear about the rose that grew

from a crack in the concrete?

Proving nature’s law is wrong it

learned to walk with out having feet.

Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,

it learned to breathe fresh air.

Long live the rose that grew from concrete

when no one else ever cared.

-Tupac Shakur

This mural was painted by the REACH Academy summer class of 2021. Led by Donald Gould and Regan Russell, it is composed of modular sections containing different imagery, themes and symbolism. The duality of night and day, light and dark, can be seen as the focal point with the sun and moon centered on the doors. The natural landscapes surrounding El Cajon and San Diego as a whole are seen with the forest, ocean, and mountain imagery. Zig-zag, wavy, and flowing patterns designed by REACH students during mural-design input classes balance out the representational imagery. Light seeps through even the strongest of brick walls. Clouds and water are always moving and changing. A fist bump of collaboration speaks to the crucial teamwork needed to create such a large work of art. And lastly, a big and beautiful rose grows out of the cracked concrete ground. It is a reminder to all of hope, resilience, and perseverance.

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Veterans Community Mural // October 2021

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Genesis Senior Veterans Community // El Cajon

Mural Artists: Donald Gould + Regan Russell

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Designed by Regan Russell and Donald Gould, this vibrant mural was painted by over 20 community members and veteran residents as a collaborative effort to help bring a sense of color, beauty, calm, and peacefulness to this gathering space. The symmetrical elements help create a grounding feel as the design blends into the surroundings and opens up the space.

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument references the local historic landmark, acting as a beacon home and guiding light. Scattered in the foreground, the red poppies are often seen as a symbol of sacrifice and worn to honor those who have fallen while protecting our country. Additionally, the flowers serve as a symbol of peace and continued hope for the future.

Thank you to all Veterans of the armed services here in San Diego and beyond.

This mural was funded by MFRG-ICON Construction.

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Hola, Haawka, Hello // November 2021

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Valley Elementary // Poway

Mural Artist: Isabel Halpern

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This mural was inspired and painted by the Valley Elementary Fifth Grade Class of 2022. As their legacy gift to their whole school community, each and every 5th grade artist painted with care, focus, and heart. Designed and led by Isabel Halpern, movement, play, growth, language, connection, and heart are the main themes that can be seen. While looking at the mural, one can read the welcoming greetings of “Hola,” “Haawka,” and “Hello” which speaks to the importance and uniqueness of Valley being the only dual language immersion school in Poway Unified. If you didn’t know, “Haawka” means “Hello” in Kumeyaay. The Kumeyaay are the original people on the land that Valley sits on. We acknowledge the Kumeyaay with this word as well as some of the native plants in the area- yucca, agave, and the prickly pear cactus.

A large anatomical heart is nestled in student-drawn flowers. The “threads of kindness” emerge and flow throughout the mural, serving as a connecting thread and finish line for the running figures. This celebrates achievement, movement, goal setting, and going after our dreams. Above all, it serves as a reminder to treat all with our hearts first and with kindness.

This mural was funded in part by the TahDah Foundation.

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Middle School Mural Project // December 2021

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Hill Creek School // Santee

Mural Artist: Milan Finnie

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This mural was painted by students from the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes of 2022. Led by multi-disciplinary artist, Milan Finnie, it spans over 60 feet of bright colors, geometric patterns, and symbolic imagery. Inspired by the participating student’s drawings and ideas, this scene is one of learning, growing, tending, joy, and balance. As we are situated in the lunch area, the center garden piece reminds us all of healthy eating, taking care of the earth, and taking care of our very own Hill Creek school garden. A large book underneath the tree, on the left side of the wall, represents growth through life-long learning. A bright sun and moon mirror each other and serve as a reminder of the importance of having balance in life. The sun and moon also speak to life cycles, the power of imagination, and going after our dreams. Pawprint patterns of the Hill Creek Bulldog can be found throughout the mural, walking along the road of learning, growth, and community.

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A New Path // August 2021

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Corner of Park & University // Hillcrest

Mural Artist: Regan Russell

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Designed by Regan Russell, this intricate mural truly brightens up the corner of Park and University right where Hillcrest and North Park meet. Composed of isometric patterns, bold shapes, and popping colors, the 3-D feels of the design makes passersby feel as if they are walking through a colorful maze. 

We can’t tell you how many people from the community stopped to talk to us while painting, to tell us how much it meant to now see this burst of color on their daily walk or from their apartment window. This project couldn’t have happened without all of those who helped and volunteered their time. 

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