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#ThatPhotoEvent in La Jolla

"I hate it," were the words of Devon (a quiet, blonde Buffalo-native I had met just moments before) when I asked him what he thought of the 2-story mural we stood under.

The rest of the group laughed at his strong opinion, intrigued by the swift delivery of his obvious disdain for the photo plastered up on the wall. They had all joined me for my monthly, small meetup for artists in the San Diego community. Each month I host something different than the month before, and for January it was a self-guided "Art Walk" tour of the Murals of La Jolla.

"Ok, that's fine," I said, "but tell us WHY you hate it."

I went on to explain there's nothing wrong with disliking something that someone calls "art," but you've gotta have a reason. And that reason, that emotional response, may very well be the reason the art was created in the first place.

Full discloser: I was hosting the meetup for cheap thrills. I wanted to see how a group of eight people would interpret the colorful media we came across. That, plus I love challenging people (and being challenged myself) when it comes to art, so I knew that with my probing, the day would ignite some insightful conversation.

Not only was the Covid-friendly, outdoor art walk a success in that we got 2.5 miles worth of steps in while breathing the ocean air, we also had some great discussions about each piece we saw displayed. That, and there was a ranking system I created that listed three points with which we could rate the artwork on a scale of 1-10.

1) Concept-- After seeing the mural and reading the artist statement for the piece, what did you think of the concept? Do you think the idea and the final outcome were aligned?

2) Emotion-- What was your emotional response? Did it make you feel something, whether positive or negative?

3) Aesthetic-- Was it visually appealing to you? Did the way it was displayed on the wall make sense to you? How about the colors, textures, use of medium(s), etc?

Not surprising to me, each of our ratings were completely different with every new mural we encountered.

There was one exception, a piece we mostly agreed on, and it was the mural situated behind the restaurant, George's at the Cove, entitled "Brain/Cloud" by John Baldessari, which ironically was the most forward and literal work we encountered.

It was a rendering of a cloud that looked like a brain centered above a palm tree situated in front of the ocean. Although the piece was created to be seen from inside the restaurant looking out so that the mural's ocean horizon line met the actual ocean's horizon line outside its windows, we were all viewing it from way down below on the sidewalk.

Maybe we agreed on its badassness because we were viewing it from an awkward angle, or maybe it was because it was so obviously created and named... or maybe we were all just tired of walking.

Either way, it was a perfect day- 70 and sunny, only the brain/cloud in the sky, just eight strangers walking around enjoying conversations about art, which was the exact purpose of the hangout.

Thank you all who joined. Check out my next event in February [updating soon].


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