Solana Beach mothers display their art in first annual Pláticas de Mejorar show

The Platicas de Mejorar group.
The Platicas de Mejorar group.

The first-ever Pláticas de Mejorar art show was held on May 15 at St. Leo Mission Church, showcasing the colorful artwork of a group of Solana Beach mothers.

Pláticas de Mejorar, which translates to “Self-Improvement Conversations”, is a parent support group for Spanish-speaking women in the La Colonia De Eden Gardens community. They meet every weekend to discuss topics such as mental health, family issues and the immigrant experience.

The group was founded by Monica Stapleton, a bilingual marriage and family therapist, mother of three and 20-year resident of Solana Beach.

This year, Stapleton wanted to add recreational opportunities to her group so she brought in activities like yoga and local expressive arts teachers.

“Many women had never even held a paintbrush,” Stapleton said. ”Immediately, I knew we were on to something because I couldn’t get them to stop painting. They’ve discovered talents that they didn’t even know they had.”

The Platicas de Mejorar art show.

This year, the group dedicated an entire month to art and worked with St. Leo’s to schedule a time to showcase their work. The excitement grew and grew as they planned the event together.

Pláticas de Mejorar was founded in 2018 when Stapleton was looking for a way to use her skills as a therapist to give back to the community. She met with local leaders, organizations and schools to assess the needs of the local immigrant community. She found that there was a need for this sort of mental health service, and personal family and community development for mothers. She wrote the curriculum, earned a grant from the city of Solana Beach and started promoting the group.

The group kicked off with a dozen women and right now there are about 30 participants. Stapleton has an open-door policy, allowing women to come whenever they want during the September to May program, aiming to provide a warm and accepting environment.

Community members have come to offer expertise in a variety of fields and allow the women to make helpful community connections.

“It’s just been a really wonderful, positive experience,” Stapleton said. “They’re such a joy to work with.”

The group faced challenges during the pandemic when they were unable to meet but Stapleton was determined to keep it going. Even if they had to meet virtually she felt she had an ethical responsibility to provide the support she said she was going to provide.

She is grateful to have found a permanent space for Pláticas de Mejorar at St. Leo’s, starting outside and eventually moving indoors.

The women created 60 pieces to exhibit at their first-ever art show and Stapleton is already hoping to make it an annual event, possibly a fundraiser for the church.

“It’s a really, really positive, wonderful program,” Stapleton said. “I hope to keep this group going as long as I can.”

Learn more about the group at