Colorful mural is a holiday gift to Encinitas
If you’re driving east or west on Encinitas Boulevard, you’ll surely notice the newest and largest public artwork—a four-part mural under the I-5 overpass.
Titled “Within This Latitude,” it features some of the local flora and fauna, with abstract designs in between. The artists, Amy Baur and Brian Boldon, are a Minneapolis-based couple, but they spent a fair bit of time looking at latitude lines to see what lives and grows in this region.
“This is a transit intersection,” Boldon said, when my photographer husband and I interviewed the two Dec. 9 as they and their team of tile-setters were putting the finishing touches on their work. “Everyone’s on the move here, and most people are going to see the mural at 30 miles per hour. Every time you go through, you’ll see something different—the poppy section, maybe, or the bee section. It’s not one big picture. It’s a collage.”
“We wanted to include the bee, because bees are important and they’re endangered,” Baur said. “And as you’re heading east, you’ll see some mountain scenery. As you’re heading west, you’ll see some ocean scenes.”
How did a Minneapolis couple get to do an Encinitas mural? They answered a nationwide call for artists’ proposals in 2020.
Here’s an excerpt from their proposal, which included a preliminary design:
Title: Within This Latitude.
Artists: Amy Baur and Brian Boldon of inplainsightart.com
Medium: Digitally printed ceramic pigments fused to glazed ceramic tile
“The artwork created for this commission reflects an awareness of this site and a larger Earth perspective. At the 33-degree North latitude Encinitas is separated by the I-5 interstate creating a specific geographic coordinate.
“Our intent… is to celebrate a sustainable relationship between nature and the built environment…Those experiencing this artwork will be in passage east and west along and within this latitude…westward toward the infinite horizon of the ocean and eastward where the mountains meet the sky.”
According to Jim Gilliam, former arts administrator for the City of Encinitas, their proposal quickly rose to the top of all those submitted, with everyone expressing enthusiasm for their concept.
“In February 2021—at the height of the pandemic—it was unanimously approved by the Commission for the Arts and was the top choice of the city and over a thousand Encinitans who participated in a public art survey,” he said. “It’s the most significant public art installation in the city’s history.”
Baur and Boldon never got to visit Encinitas beforehand, but they did their research, and several of the bird portraits came from images by local photographer Insu Nuzzi. Ultimately, it took them six months to make their proposal a reality: she spent two months creating the digital design, and he spent four months on digital ceramic printing, the transfer to tile, and the firing. “We’re a collaborative team,” he said.
It took 975 12x12-inch tiles to create the mural’s four panels and it took seven tile-setters six days to install them on both sides of Encinitas Boulevard.
“People driving by seemed to love it,” said the artists. “They gave us thumbs up, or they’d honk and wave.”
If you want more than a drive-by look, the closest parking is in the Lazy Acres shopping center. You’ll have to use the crosswalks to safely approach either side of the mural.
Gilliam was excited to see the completed artwork for himself. “Their mosaic is so vivid and luminous, it’s like modern stained glass,” he said. “When I drove by to see it, everyone was slowing down to look. I think the public is really going to enjoy this.”
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