La Mesa’s Walking Art Trail
A few years ago, the city of La Mesa implemented the Urban Trails Mobility Action Plan (UTMAP). Part of that plan was creating trails for residents in order to increase wellness and create other social benefits. One of our favorite trails in La Mesa that was created in light of this project is the Walking Art Trail. The Walking Art Trail covers about two miles and 22 sites (some of which include two or three painted boxes) by various artists. It was created in 2006 by the city of La Mesa and the La Mesa ARTS Alliance, the result of conversations between the two about coming up with a manageable public art project in the city.
When they set out to create the UTMAP plan, the city’s intention was to “provide a comprehensive implementation strategy for the City of La Mesa that identifies connecting urban trails (sidewalks) between high-priority neighborhoods and key community destinations such as parks and recreation, hospitals and local retail in La Mesa. The increased active transportation options could lead to significant health, economic, environmental and social benefits for City residents and the community as a whole.”
The Walking Art Trail combines urban art with exercise in the great outdoors. The walk is a great way to get to know a two mile stretch of the city and it also feels a bit inspiring to see the work of local artists on public display (sometimes in unlikely places). Other communities have done similar public art projects, and they’ve been well received.
Yvonne Garrett, La Mesa’s assistant city manager and director of community services says, “People can walk in a circular fashion through town. The goal was to provide public art and encourage physical activity and visiting The Village.”
The entire project, which was funded by corporate and community donations, cost $5,500, Garrett says. Initially, artists competed for a chance to be a part of the project, and were paid. Later, unpaid volunteers have painted the boxes, including Helix Charter High School students as part of their senior projects. It is perhaps a sign of the public’s endearment to the project that none of the public art has been vandalized or graffitied.
Walking the Art Trail is a bit like a scavenger hunt. With map in hand, a trekker starts from the first utility box at the Community Center at MacArthur Park, and follows the trail down Memorial Drive, across University Avenue, up La Mesa Boulevard, up to Lemon Avenue, down Spring Street, across Allison Avenue to University and back to the intersection with La Mesa Boulevard (with a few zigs and zags along the way).
We hope you take the time to check out the Art Trail for yourself! Perhaps you’ll be inspired to create some art of your own.