LaJollaLight.com | Artist extends reach to library donor wall
August 16, 2010
By Lee Schoenbart, Contributor
The art of Betsy Schulz that brought communities together in Carmel Valley, Del Mar and Solana Beach now reaches the northernmost part of the county, in Fallbrook.
After bidding on one of five art-related projects in spring 2009, Schulz was awarded the contract for the Major Donor Wall Mural on the east side of the soon-to-be-completed Fallbrook library.
The $11.4 million library (set to open in the fall) was designed by Ferguson, Pape, Baldwin Architects and Manuel Oncina Architects Inc. Schulz’s mural project got a $30,000 budget from The Friends of the Fallbrook Library.
The success of Schulz’s medium (handmade tiles and found objects that were the mainstay and a large part of the community art draw for the Del Mar library’s retaining mural wall in 2002) provided the experience and knowledge for approaching the much larger 84-square-foot Fallbrook project.
The Fallbrook mural, Schulz said, “is a completely different project. I talked to people about how they felt about Fallbrook to get a sense of the spirit of Fallbrook, did historical research, and decided people overall felt it was more of a rural community … that’s the part of Fallbrook that they really appreciated and enjoyed.
“I did research and determined that Fallbrook (farmers) were one of the (country’s) biggest avocado producers. I don’t know that they still are, but at one time they were. They have a lot of agriculture there. For the design, I wanted to bring out the agricultural part of (the town), the history and the people.”
As with the Del Mar Library Mixed Media Mosaic Wall, eight mosaic sitting walls at Fletcher Cove, and a pair of Solana Beach Gateway Arches along the rail trail, Schulz valued community participation in her projects and planned a workshop for the locals at the Fallbrook School of the Arts to explain her plan and how they could contribute to it.
“My assistants and I went there and worked with over 200 people. It was a great workshop. We had no idea (what to expect), and when we saw people coming, it was like ‘oh boy!’ I had no clue it was going to be that well attended,” said Schulz, a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh with a B.A. in art and whose career accomplishments range from graphic artist to landscape design.
Those who participated learned how to press positive words and phrases into tiles for the background of the mural. The four panels have nature themes with a combination of plants and animals including sunflowers, avocados, birds, young acorns green in their cap shells, and an owl. The latter is the library’s mascot and appears to be swooping down on the open pages of a book.
“The idea was that the owl would be striving for wisdom with the words flowing out of the book,” said the former artist-in-residence for Del Mar Heights Elementary School. “It was so nice to have the community come in and create those words because every time people come and are involved or have friends who are involved, they are more likely to look at the mural as opposed to just walking by it.”
The library project is twofold for Schulz. The Fallbrook Friends also asked her to contribute to the garden room by constructing the reading garden wall. Guests must pass through the library to get to an outside courtyard.
As the fall deadline approaches, Schulz spoke confidently of completing the work on time.
“I’ve roughly designed it, but I have to get into the nitty-gritty of it. There are five quotes that I’m using for inspiration for that project, and those are going to be pressed into clay. Then I’ll have corresponding imagery that will support the quotes.
“Instead of having the community make tiles and bring things, the Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society’s museum is donating some items to go into the section that’s going to be like layers of the Earth. I’m going to have some items that are ‘literally’ from Fallbrook – from the mines out there.”
The library should be completed in late October/early November with the installation of Schulz’s mural the first part of November.
“I’m probably the last one to install because they want to have the landscaping and everything in,” she said. “They’re just a little bit worried about damage, so right now the mural panels are actually hanging in my house.”
Reflecting on the community art projects she has undertaken, Schulz said: “Del Mar, La Jolla, Solana Beach, Point Loma and Fallbrook all have their unique flavors. A lot of it is in the way people feel about their community … people generally relate back to the history, especially if they’ve lived there for a long time. That’s really what makes a community, that’s what stands out.”
For more information, visit fallbrookfriends.tripod.com.