The concept isn't anything new or spectacular: Jax Meyers simply wanted to fill empty walls with art. When the 26-year-old Encinitas native returned home after leaving for a few years to collect life experiences, it was as if the blank walls in her hometown were calling out to her, begging to be covered with colorful murals.
"So, it started as just me, just an idea," Meyers says. "I felt determined to create change in my community that was positive and could bring art to the community."
The idea quickly turned into Paint Encinitas, Meyers' now-year-old, volunteer-run organization that's successfully overseen the addition of two large-scale, outdoor murals and is getting ready to unveil a third. The group recently partnered with Beautify Earth, which acts as an umbrella group for organizations working toward the nonprofit's ultimate goal of putting up 1 million new murals in the United States in the next five years. The relationship means that after a year of scrounging together funding and supplies, Meyers can finally apply for grants, and donations to her organization are officially tax-deductible.
The poet and writer is standing in front of a mural by artist Skye Walker that's painted across a previously white wall of Royal Liquor on the busy North Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas. It's Paint Encinitas' first project, so Meyers wanted it to be big and noticeable. Good lighting—paid for by the liquor store's owners, who Meyers says are proud of the artwork—shines down on the mural and there's a plaque with information about the artist, the art and Paint Encinitas.
"I think a lot of murals, especially in this town, are missing the opportunity to educate people about art by not including plaques or any information about the artists," Meyers says.
Next up is a new mural by artist Micaiah Hardison, which will be unveiled at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, at 7-Eleven in downtown Encinitas (105 W. D St.). Paint Encinitas is helping to raise funds to pay Hardison for his work and trying to increase awareness of the importance of the new piece and mural art in general.
Meyers, who regularly drives and walks the streets of Encinitas and adds to a growing list of walls she'd like to eventually see covered in art, says one of her biggest challenges is getting businesses and property owners to recognize the value of a mural by simply saying "yes" and letting her and Paint Encinitas do the rest of the work. She often cites studies linking murals to increased foot traffic and revenue and educates the owners about how murals discourage graffiti.
"We still receive a lot of Not yet,'" she says. "I think, with time, more business owners will step up and want murals . Right now, though, we've got enough coming to us to help, so we're starting there."