Encinitas to unveil Arts Alive banners Sunday

Some of the banners at the 2016 exhibit.
(Robert McKenzie)

Two hundred people expected to attend first unveiling since the pandemic’s early days


A Coast Highway 101 art program that’s been on a hiatus during much of the coronavirus pandemic will host its first banner unveiling ceremony in two years on Sunday, Sept. 11.

A much smaller collection of artist-decorated banners will be on view this year — 22, instead of the 80 to 100 that typified the years just before the pandemic hit in 2020. But it’s still great to see the much-loved, annual tradition come back, banner project coordinator Danny Salzhandler said Thursday, Sept. 8.

It’s fairly obvious that the community is eager for it to return, he added. By Thursday morning, some 200 people already had made reservations to attend the unveiling, which is set for 3 p.m. Sunday at the San Dieguito Heritage Ranch at 450 Quail Gardens Drive.

Sunday’s ceremony launches the two-month period when the public can bid on the artistic creations. The minimum bid is $200 and the 101 Artists’ Colony will be accepting bids via phone calls to (760) 473-5164. Bidding concludes Nov. 13 when the Artists’ Colony holds its traditional live auction.

Images on the banners typically are a closely guarded secret until the unveiling, but sea scenes — everything from dogs on surfboards to frolicking mermaids — are frequently common.

The artists who created the banners receive 50 percent of their banner’s final sales price, and the Artists’ Colony receives the remainder, which it uses to fund art programs.

During the two-month bidding period, the decorative banners are displayed on light poles along the coast. Salzhandler said he’s already booked a bucket truck for the job and he personally plans to be doing the banner hanging before dawn on Tuesday morning.

Traditionally, the banners have gone up on much of the 6-mile stretch of Coast Highway from northern Leucadia to southern Cardiff. This year, however, Salzhandler said he’s limited in his decorating locations, in part because of the Streetscape renovation project that’s currently reworking portions of Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia.

“There’s no way we could do the banners in Leucadia because of the construction,” he said.

He’s planning to hang most of this year’s banners on lamp posts in the Cardiff Town Center parking lot, but will put some along Cardiff’s “Restaurant Row” portion of Coast Highway, he said.

The art banner program’s been in existence for 20 years. Looking ahead, Salzhandler admits that he’s frankly starting to think that he ought to hand over the program coordinator job to someone else. Ultimately, he’d like the city’s three MainStreet Associations to take over the banner program in each of their portions of Coast Highway, “so it is sustaining, because it’s an incredible arts event,” he said.