A large mural recently popped up on the east wall of Soda Bar (3615 El Cajon Blvd. in City Heights). It was created by artist Dusty Dirtweed, who also serves as brand manager for the bar, designing show fliers and posters.

Though Soda Bar's managers and owners had to approve the mural, Dirtweed, whose given name is Dustyn Peterman, had free rein on its design. It depicts 100 or so smiley faces that resemble the groovy scratch-n-sniff stickers from 1970s kids magazines.

Farmer Tanner, production manager at Soda Bar, who also helped paint the mural, says the piece serves two purposes.

"The wall was used as a billboard for the car lot that was there, but that's been gone for six months," Tanner says. "And then there was graffiti. So, that was a double whammy: Get rid of the graffiti. Put up a mural."

Though the mural has a sweet, nostalgic quality, Dirtweed insisted that making something uplifting wasn't his intent.

"The image was just meant to be an image that you come up and find yourself in," Dirtweed says. "If you see the smiley face first, then you're the smiley guy. If you see the deadhead first, then you're the deadhead guy." 

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