It's well known that public art can have a positive impact on a neighborhood. Barrio Logan, for instance, saw increased civic pride after the creation of the Chicano Park murals. That pride has helped turn the area into one of San Diego's most compelling arts districts.

But what if the area benefitting from this type of beautification is more prone to Bentleys and tiny dogs wearing $300 collars? Does public art really make a difference in that community?

The Art Advisory Committee believes so. For three years, the committee, along with the La Jolla Community Foundation and leaders of various arts organizations in La Jolla, has spearheaded the Murals of La Jolla project. It has commissioned murals from local, national and international artists including Ryan McGuinness, John Baldessari and Kim MacConnel.

The 10 pieces currently on view can be found in open, visible sections and hidden walls tucked behind buildings throughout the tony enclave. Even though La Jolla isn't in need of an aesthetic makeover, committee spokesperson Lynda Forsha says the murals do generate community pride.

"I think that having art in the public realm really changes one's perception of their environment," she says. "It makes people more aware of their surroundings. They see things in a way they wouldn't otherwise notice. People have been so supportive and enthusiastic about everything we've done so far. There's a range of subject matter and styles that I think people might not love all of them but can love enough of them."

The project is undergoing some changes. New pieces by British artist Julian Opie, Brooklyn artist Fred Tomaselli and Los Angeles artist Gajin Fujita recently went up on La Jolla Boulevard and Girard and Fay avenues, respectively, replacing previously commissioned murals.

Even though many of the artists aren't local, the area plays a vital role in their pieces. Anya Gallaccio, for instance, photographed a grain of sand from a nearby beach and enlarged it for use in her mural.

"I think the objective is to get the best artists you can for the project," Forsha says. "I hear from people all the time about how they're excited about what they're seeing. It starts a dialogue in the community." 

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