‘Art is Good For You’: New mural in La Jolla encourages creative consumption

Art Is Good For You, Michael Mercil

Proclaiming an ideal artist Michael Mercil keeps front and center in his life, a new mural now stands front and center along Silverado Street in The Village.

“Art is Good For You,” installed this week by Murals of La Jolla spans the entire north side of the building at 7777 Girard Ave., facing Silverado Street. 

The mural is painted directly on the site, with large letters proclaiming the title in a message that Murals of La Jolla Executive Director Lynda Forsha hopes will “provoke a conversation about art and its significance in our lives and community.”

“Art presents insights about the human condition and the world we live in,” she added.

Murals of La Jolla aims to commission public art pieces on private property in La Jolla. Founded by the La Jolla Community Foundation and now a project of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, the mural project has installed dozens of murals since 2010; 15 are currently on view.

Artists are chosen by the Murals of La Jolla Art Advisory Committee, which is composed of the heads of the major local visual arts organizations. Each work is on display for a minimum of two years and is funded by private donations. 

The Girard Avenue location is a new one for the program, one that thrills Forsha, she said, it’s “so central to the heart of The Village. This long horizontal wall lends itself to an expansive painted mural,” easily visible from Silverado and Girard.

Public art is also important to Mercil, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he is emeritus professor in the Ohio State University Department of Art. 

Mercil has been engaged in similar large-scale projects throughout his career, he said.

The placement of his La Jolla mural in a prominent location is “a wonderful transfer of my message in the public realm,” he said.

Though his in-studio work is primarily drawing, Mercil was trained as a sculptor. 

Drawing is a “halfway point between thinking and making,” he said, adding drawing is a medium through which he can materialize his ideas in a way that’s not as developed as the objects he constructs as sculptures.

For Mercil, how letters are shaped and form words is of great interest, in that the word becomes “a thing” itself, an object, he said. 

The new mural in La Jolla then is related to Mercil’s exploration of this thinking, he said.

A different iteration of the same phrase appears on the side of Mercil’s studio, which he shares with his wife, artist Ann Hamilton, who created the piece “Kahnop: To Tell A Story,” a giant walkway-as-public-art piece installed at UC San Diego earlier this year featuring 1,300 lines of text.

“We both happen to have this obsession with language and words,” Mercil laughed.

In his case, Mercil chooses different fonts and spacing to carry his messages in words, using a condensed font for the La Jolla mural. 

He also chose the particular colors of the mural in alignment with “the light in California,” he said, hues that are brighter and lighter.

“I was thinking of the Pacific sunsets and later in the day when it cools down a little bit,” Mercil said. “The light is becoming a little bluer and not so hot and silvery.”

The phrase itself – “Art is good for you” – is a play on a phrase printed inside a box of Atomic Fireballs candy that reads “Candy is good for you. Eat some every day.”

His parallel imperative to consume art daily follows that “brilliant” placement, he said. 

“Art is good for you,” he said. “Buy some every day.”

Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

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