First of 14 tile murals goes up in San Clemente

114 Hotel

By FRED SWEGLES 
Orange County Register
January 20, 2009

After five years of planning and vision, public art is making a colorful new statement in downtown San Clemente.

Installation began Monday on the first of 14 tile murals that will decorate eight public rest areas along the 100 and 200 blocks of Avenida Del Mar.

The city, the Downtown Business Association and the San Clemente Historical Society are partners in the “Landmarks on Del Mar” program. Bench areas will be decorated with tile murals – funded by sponsors – depicting historical buildings around town.

The first mural, already up, is at a bench area in front of 114 Avenida Del Mar – Hotel San Clemente and Cafe Calypso. The mural shows how the hotel looked when it opened in 1928. A second mural, depicting San Clemente’s historical movie theater, is coming later this week.

“I think what it’s going to bring to the downtown is probably a lot of art walking tours,” said Michael Kaupp, a former DBA president and the project’s pioneer. “We’re hoping to get Huell Howser out here and probably Sunset magazine. I think it’s going to have a lot of long-term, high-impact benefit. And they look pretty.”

The artwork is by Jay Adams, the tile work by Michael King.

Completion of all 14 murals hinges on how soon the Historical Society can line up sponsors. “We have found sponsors for about half of them,” said society President Mike Cotter, who is taking orders at 949-322-6009. “Sponsorships range between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on whether it’s a wall image or a floor image and how close to El Camino Real it is, because (upper Del Mar) gets more traffic than further down the street.

“Once everyone sees what it’s actually going to look like, I think we’re going to have a run on the bank here on these other (images),” Cotter said.

Other images will include well-known buildings such as the Casino ballroom and the Beachcomber Motel, as well as stylish but less-known historical buildings. “The person who sponsors has a lot to say about what image goes there,” Cotter said.

Sponsors of the first mural were the late Ray and Carol Benediktus. They selected Hotel San Clemente as the subject. “We’ll accommodate people as much as we can. There’s 200 historic buildings and there’s only 14 places.”

Adams and King already are at work on another mural – San Clemente founder Ole Hanson’s former office, which is now Baskin-Robbins on the corner of Del Mar and El Camino Real.

Lois Divel, San Clemente’s matriarch, attended Monday’s mural groundbreaking and said it has been a long time coming. “But it’ll be worth it.”