From left to right clockwise Carol Rogers, Kati Cowan, Suzanne Nicolaisen, Louisa Magoon, Dan Forster, Heather Moe, Stella, Tristan Pittard.
by Kati Cowan
Published in Escondido Times Advocate
A historic wall in downtown Escondido is going through a remarkable metamorphosis that gives the term “hanging out in the alley” a whole new meaning.
At 11 a.m., June 12 the alley south of Grand Avenue between Broadway and Maple will come alive as Esco Alley Art unveils their novel outdoor gallery. Eleven murals painted by various talented local artists will hang in frames on a rugged old brick wall. Live entertainment will add to the festivities.
Pounders Sports Pub will feature an “Esco Alley Art Special” drink for the occasion. The back patio adjacent to the alley art display will be opened to serve the public.
The Esco Alley Art project is the vision of Heather Moe of Design Moe Kitchen and Bath.
To Moe, alleys represent mystery where she can explore the unknown. They are places of discovery and enchantment.
“I grew up in Los Angeles. We had a lot of freedom. Riding our bikes around I loved all the little hidden places and back alleys.” she said. “Something about a city and secret places brings out the child in me.”
She invites people to sightsee the alleys of Escondido where there is much to find like the Esco Alley Art gallery, open to see at any hour. Moe’s business backs onto this alley.
Moe saw the century old brick wall lining the alley as a blank canvas.
The wall was first part of a poultry and egg business, then became the Escondido Community Hospital, followed by Sears, H. Johnson Furniture and is now part of John Paul the Great Catholic University campus. The weathered façade exudes character with countless stories to tell.
Moe asked Suzanne Nicolaisen of the Escondido Art Association to paint murals there, but Nicolaisen suggested something different.
An advocate for artists and art projects that bring the community together, Nicolaisen proposed a collection of local artists’ large paintings in frames, creating a mega outdoor art gallery.
A recognized dynamo in the art community, she mobilized and recruited four other volunteers who make up the committee. They are Louisa Magoon, Tristan Pittard, Carol Rogers and Kati Cowan (the author of this piece.) Together with Moe, the committee has worked since February to launch phase one of a three phase project.
A call to artists went out for phase one in April. Artists could paint whatever they wanted on 4 by 8 feet or 8 by 8 ft. panels. Artists had to submit applications for approval. Phase one filled up quickly. Phase two is planned for August and is already full. Phase three is filling up fast, but artists can still submit applications available to download at www.escoalleyart.com.
Artists showing in phase one are Daniel Kilgore, Leslie Mayer, Tristan Pittard, Jinx Lennon, Cindy Peters, Maya Solvana, Natalie Cuenca, Mauro Alvarez, Julia Martinez, MJ Moe and Kati Gaines. The eclectic collection is sure to dazzle.
“What I have heard from almost every artist is they are so excited to just make their own piece that is not commissioned,” said Pittard, committee member, graphic artist, founder and owner of Mandala Creative and a phase one participant. “My part in it is twofold. One is for the artist to go and create. The other is for the general public to experience art, especially for those who haven’t focused on it yet.”
“For artists, we want them to do something dear to their heart,” said Moe. “This is community art for the community after the pandemic to bring us together and have some joy in life. Something about painting is enthusiastic, colorful and playful.”
Esco Alley Art hopes to reach everyone and offer them an opportunity to experience and appreciate artistic expression through the originality and creativity of participating artists and the beauty of their work.
With Moe’s love for hidden places, it is no wonder that she chose to create Esco Alley Art in Escondido which means “Hidden” in Spanish.
“Escondido will be hidden no more,” said Rogers, co-owner of Stone and Glass and member of the committee. According to Rogers, Escondido’s art community is passionately building the city’s image to reflect an even more thriving and exciting art scene.
Rogers, an avid promoter of the arts and the heart and soul of the 2nd Saturday Art walk, lives and breathes to elevate artists, offering opportunities to share their talents with the community. “Artist Pop-ups”, popping up all over town every 2nd Saturday on the sidewalks of Escondido is one such venue. This event is a smorgasbord of artistic talent selling works to hungry fans wanting to beautify homes or offices or gift their loved ones with original and exclusive treasures.
The unveiling of Esco Alley Art is yet another event added to the already popular 2nd Saturday with shops offering incentives to Esco Alley Art unveiling attendees. Each painting in the show is for sale and will be auctioned off at a future date.
Esco Alley Art, a nonprofit organization, welcomes donations to keep this project going and to help continue to make Escondido a thriving and vibrant destination for the arts and business.
This gift to the community could not happen without the support of donors. Esco Alley Art wants to thank the Grand Tea Room, the Downtown Business Association, Pounders, Design Moe Kitchen and Bath, Escondido Stone and Glass, the Escondido Art Association, SignPost Studio, Packtrain Productions, Kati Cowan PhotoArt, Mandala Creative, and John Paul the Great Catholic University for their generous support.
Through this project they hope to make art accessible to many who would otherwise never even consider it and appeal to the child in us all to explore enchanting hidden places.
“I can’t wait for the unveiling. I think the energy of that day will be moving,” said Rogers.
For more information on how to donate, participate or attend, go to www.escoalleyart.com .