It costs residents $25 for a Mission Hills Town Council membership, and thats a total bargain, considering the power it buys. When it was announced that Vons would be tearing down its old store and replacing it with a new one, the Town Council made sure that its communitys needs were met by forming a partnership with the chain grocery store that gave members a say in the structures design.
Mark Fehlman, the Town Councils former president of two years, says the group is slowly funding new public-art projects in the neighborhood, the Vons mural—an enlarged image by local urban-landscape photographer, Philipp Scholz Rittermann— being the most recent example.
Theres a lot of people getting behind it, Fehlman says of public art and the creative use of space in the community. He says its not just Town Council members getting involved.
When Brooklyn Girl Eatery had its soft opening earlier this summer, he says, owners Victoria and Michael McGeath donated $13,000 in profits to the Town Council so that it can maintain existing community art projects and add new flair.
In early July, the community group approved a mural for the west-facing side of M-Theory Music by artists Jonny Alexander and Celeste Byers. They started painting on July 27 and will finish the 15-by-30-foot wall by Aug. 6. Alexander and Byers—both of whose work has been featured on CityBeats cover—are friends with Fehlmans son Drew, and with their zine, Sioux Magazine, available for free at M-Theory, the project quickly fell into place. Fehlman says the artists plans were approved in just four days.
The big idea we brought up to the Town Council is the importance of spreading new art throughout the community. Mission Hills is kind of a stronghold where young artists havent infiltrated, Alexander says.
There were a couple of young people at the Town Council meeting, Byers recalls. At one point, they yelled, Were the next generation!
Along with the Town Councils approval came supply money. Now, the artists are busily painting the wall, mostly at night, before Byers next art show in San Francisco and when Alexander has to travel outside of San Diego for work.
To design the mural, the friends started sketching separately before combining their work. They know each others styles, Byers says, and both enjoy painting landscapes and nature with weird patterns throughout. Its how we envision the world, taking its natural processes and breaking them down, interpreting them our way, Byers says of the spacey scapes inspiration.
This is art for arts sake, says Rick Tyner, M-Theorys manager, who coordinated the project. And, hopefully, it ends up helping our visibility. Tyner commends the Town Council for approving the project, and he hopes for many more.
Theres the library, music store, and soon there will be art—all on this corner, Alexander says, and thats something he and Byers are particularly proud of.
Byers recalls a Town Council meeting in which one of the members played devils advocate just for fun, asking the question, But what if people dont get it?
I said, Art isnt about being told what to paint, she says.
Listing examples like the new Vons, the mural at Pioneer Park and the ATM-machine-turned coffee-cart on Goldfinch Street and Fort Stockton Drive, Fehlman says the Town Council is ultimately concerned with the communitys identity and what sets it apart from other San Diego neighborhoods.
Independent expression makes communities unique, he says. Thats why, along with local businesses, were in support of it—so that people who live here have a sense of independence from the rest of San Diego.
The Town Council encourages anyone with ideas for further beautification to visit missionhillstown council.org and submit them for review.