One of San Diego’s most innovative public art projects, which honors community leaders in San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods and was painted by artists from the area, will be publicly unveiled at Market Creek Plaza, the arts, entertainment and cultural hub at the corner of Market Street and Euclid Avenue, on Saturday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m.
The Community Faces Art Project features portraits of 27 people who have made extraordinary contributions to the Diamond Neighborhoods of southeastern San Diego, which surround the Plaza. Six canvas art panels, each 16-by-16 feet, feature one set of four portraits. Honored in the portraits are 21 individuals and three couples chosen by a team of community members for their leadership and community service.
Community Faces is the first in what will be a series of public art projects planned and created by the Market Creek Plaza Art and Design Team, one of eight resident-working teams partnering with the Jacobs Center for NonProfit Innovation to develop and implement a common vision for community change. The Art and Design Team includes local residents and artists who came together to design an architectural and aesthetic look for the Plaza that is reflective of the rich culture and history of the diverse, surrounding communities.
“The Community Faces Art Project is about celebrating and honoring the beauty, strength, and history of a community of people,” said Jennifer Vanica, president and CEO of the Jacobs Center. “This is a celebration we hope to share with all communities in San Diego for years to come.”
Subjects for the portraits were chosen based on their history in the community, civic involvement and cultural pride. Honorees are Malia Aloese, Jihmye Collins, Betty and Roosevelt Brown, Officer Terri Davis-Cole, Dr. Annie B. Campbell, Precious Jackson, Officer Nancy Johnson, Lelya & James Sampson, Willie Jones, Khamphet Soumpholphakdy, Shirley Junior, Maxcine & William Stephens, Charles Kahalifa King, Robert Tambuzi, Dr. Robert Matthews, Agnes Tuifao, Ellen Nash, Sounthone Voraraj, Luis Natividad, Rosemary White-Pope, Juan Orozco, Maxine Wilson, Beatriz Santana-Hernandez and Sister Margaret Castro.
Creating the dramatic, larger-than-life portraits were 12 artists from the communities surrounding the Plaza, paired in learning partnership teams. All artists were chosen for their skills, connection to the community, experience, and willingness to work as part of a team. Artists Gil Dominguez, Carmen Linares Kalo, Victor Ochoa, Elaine F. Ruiz, R.J. Wharton and Byron Wooden each painted two of the four portraits in a grouping. Each painted a portrait with a younger artist partner: Bere-nice Badillo, Dan Reyes Camacho, Ricardo Islas, Brian Lagemann, Savaii Seau and Shannon White. The younger artists then painted the final portrait on his or her own.
The creative process began in June 2002 and was completed in October 2002. The portraits were then taken through an extensive weather treatment and mounting process in preparation for installation and are now ready for unveiling at an outdoor community celebration at Market Creek Plaza. The finished portraits will hang on the east and west sides of the Food 4 Less grocery store.
“This was a unique opportunity to bring together artists, youth and community volunteers in order to honor people who give much of themselves to the community with little recognition,” said Lisette Islas, director of community research and evaluation at the Jacobs Center for NonProfit Innovation, developers of the Plaza. “Through this project, we were able to showcase the talents of the people who live in southeastern San Diego, while also bridging generations, cultures and communities.”