Vintage in The Village: La Jolla poster shop connects old art and new mural

There is new art in La Jolla, both the take-home variety and public, courtesy of Authentic Vintage Posters. The five-month-old shop at 969 Coast Blvd. in The Village offers original vintage posters from several countries, artists and decades.

The posters are unique, stone-printed lithographs. 

“To appreciate that process is actually an amazing thing,” said business owner Vin Villano, noting the posters were printed on blocks of limestone as large as the posters themselves and quite heavy.

Because of the massive weight of the stones, wherever a poster was printed was the only place it was printed and only in one dimension,” said gallery director Claudia Peinado.

Every color was printed on a separate stone, Villano added. “It was an incredibly laborious process but that is what makes these colors so vivid.”

Villano, with a background in marketing, became a fan of the graphic art featured on the posters, starting to collect various pieces about five years ago and then realizing he could make a business out of his passions.

“I’m a fan of graphic art and I’m a fan of advertising and this is the junction of both of those,” Villano said. Plus, “I ran out of wall space.”

Villano acquires the poster through a vast, worldwide network of contacts, auctions and travel. He sends the posters for restoration, though that process isn’t too long: “It is still amazing that these things have just lasted through over the years. It’s incredible.”

There are only a couple real dangers to the posters, Villano said: moisture and UV exposure. 

The ink won’t otherwise fade, Peinado said, since limestone is inherently pourous. 

Villano is particularly proud of “Contratto,” a 1922 poster by Italian and French designer and painter Leonetto Cappiello.

Cappiello, dubbed “the father of the modern poster” due to his innovation in design, inspired the works of many other poster artists, Peinado said. 

Any of these posters would be “the hero on a wall,” Villano said. “It really makes a statement and it becomes the feeling of the room.”

Posters are a more accessible art form as they’re offered at “a really affordable price point,” Peinado said, adding her “greatest joy working here is just teaching people about a world of art that they maybe don’t know exists.”

New mural

The 969 Coast building’s location is “just fantastic,” Villano said, noting it was built by local artist Faiya Fredman and her husband. 

Fredman, who served on the boards of several cultural institutions, was “a force,” Villano said. “I couldn’t have a better place to have a vintage poster gallery.” 

Hosting art in such a space is an homage to its origins, he emphasized.

To further connect the building to local art, Villano commissioned California artist David Flores to add a mural along the large west wall, which runs down the Ocean View stairs. 

new mural on exterior of authentic vintage posters shop in La Jolla of famed lion P-22.The mural, “P-22,” is an image of an eponymous male mountain lion who garnered much fame as the “Hollywood Cat” of Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

National Park Services staff worked to capture the 12-year-old puma in December 2022 after P-22 killed a dog in a concerning behavior shift, transporting him to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for a health evaluation.

The results showed P-22 had significant trauma to his head, right eye, and internal organs from a suspected vehicle strike, as well as multiple chronic health illnesses, which led to his being euthanized later that month, a process that caught much media attention.

“We painted him in San Diego,” Flores said, “because that’s where his final resting place was.” 

“As much as I love vintage art [and] graphic art, I love street art,” Villano said, recognizing there is a large audience for that in La Jolla.

Flores is one of his favorite artists, he said, adding the mural subject is a perfect tribute to P-22’s last days. 

The stairs under P-22 leading down to Coast Boulevard make the mural more vivid, Flores said.

The same stairs, however, presented “a real challenge” when actually painting, he said, noting the antique steps are “really wonky” and uneven.

“It was a bit of a challenge and it just fought us the whole way,” Flores said of the staircase. “But … it just  lends to the spirit of the cat.”

“The personal connection is the name of the game,” Villano said, noting he himself likes to cycle in Griffith Park.

That’s what he loves about the vintage poster business: “When somebody buys something that connects to them in such a way, … it’s just so much fun to figure out.”

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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