Artists selected to beautify Skyline School

Marina Alberti with a mural she recently completed at Flower Hill Promenade.

The Solana Beach School District board has selected three local artists to bring playfulness and pops of color to the Skyline School campus.

At the Oct. 10 board meeting, the board awarded bids to artists Helen Segal, Annika Nelson and Marina Alberti, a senior at San Dieguito Academy High School. The board members could not pick just one of the finalists, they liked the different style that each artist brings and believed they could work together on projects that will help beautify the school.

“It’s a beautiful blank canvas, said Nelson of Skyline. “It just needs a little color and a little community character.”

In May the board issued the request for qualifications for artists for public art installations on campus exteriors including the alcove at the kindergarten classroom building, the columns in front of the administration and theater, the bike lockers at the west end of the campus driveway, the front picket fencing along Lomas Santa Fe Drive and the Skyline sign monument at the east of end of the campus driveway.

The board has already approved making landscaping and signage improvements for Skyline, a result of recommendations from a community group called Growing into our New School Building.

The school sign will be made a blue color rather than black and they will pin-mount the letters so they don’t sit flat against the wall. As part of the next phase of work with the artwork, the board is considering options to back-light the letters with LED lighting.

“We are very excited about this phase, which will all be provided through community fundraising efforts,” said SBSD Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger.

Nelson, a Cardiff resident who grew up in Del Mar, said she hopes her artwork will help the school become a source of pride for Solana Beach.

Artist Annika Nelson with a mermaid art installation.

As an artist, Nelson has illustrated several children’s books and also designs logos and graphics for t-shirts, posters, banners, interpretive signs and interactive educational displays. She has also received commissions for a number of public art installations ranging from murals to a sculpture series permanently installed at the Tidelands Park in Coronado, to teach visitors about the animals who live in the San Diego Bay. She also created a series of fish-themed bike racks in Leucadia.

As she has in many of her projects, Nelson will do the Skyline project with her collaborator Tanya Bredehoft, an industrial designer who owns Artefact Interpretive Design Studio in Cardiff.

Nelson and Bredehoft’s ideas presented to the board drew inspiration from the sky, such as painted metal clouds. Ideas included incorporating elements created by the community and students into the work, a metal tree sculpture and silhouettes of kids with thought bubbles.

Annika Nelson's fish-themed bike racks in Leucadia.

Marina might have been the youngest artist selected but she has plenty of experience in public art. The 17-year-old high school senior has done Arts Alive Encinitas banners on Coast Highway 101 with koi fish and lotus flowers, painted electrical boxes in Cardiff on the corner of Newcastle Avenue and Chesterfield Drive, and was recently selected as one of 20 artists to paint a mural at Flower Hill Promenade. She completed her mural at the center for the Oct. 5 Art, Wine and Wander event.

Marina also won the 49th District’s Congressional Art Award presented by Congressman Mike Levin this summer and her self-portrait art will be on display at the capitol in Washington, DC for a year where it will be seen by millions of visitors.

Marina’s ideas for Skyline include botanical themes, ocean life and aquatic scenes, collaborating with Skyline students when possible.

“A school that is vibrant and bright makes everyone’s day a little better,” Marina said. “You don’t want school to look like prison.”

The board was excited for what mosaic artist Segal can bring to Skyline.

“Helen’s work is really going to make a difference in that façade,” said board member Debra Schade.

Segal, a former Carmel Valley resident who now lives in Escondido, has done several large-scale installations such as “The Matriarchs” at San Diego Jewish Academy, and the fountain and sculpture of three dancing forms in Torrey Hills Center, which features more than 2,000 ceramic butterflies painted by local neighborhood school children. The butterflies are part of The Butterfly Project, the educational art project which aims to create and mount 1.5 million hand-painted ceramic butterflies at locations around the world in honor of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust.

Helen Segal with her "Tree of Life" holocaust memorial at Beth El in La Jolla.
(Corey Levitan)

This year Segal collaborated with Cheryl Rattner Price, the co-founder of The Butterfly Project, on the new “Tree of Life” Holocaust memorial at Congregation Beth El in La Jolla.

For Skyline, Segal presented ideas such as a mosaic of kids swimming in the ocean, three-dimensional birds and incorporating sea creatures like the school mascot the sea otter. One idea included having an otter take over the nook under the Skyline sign that currently includes a lock box and gas meter.

The board got a kick out of a playful sculpture of an octopus proposed to rest on top of the bike lockers.

Helen Segal's octopus sculpture. This particular guy is headed for San Diego Jewish Academy's preschool.

SBSD Vice President Richard Leib said he is looking forward to the art installations and has offered to lead the fundraising campaign on behalf of the Solana Beach community. Leib has been very honest about what he thinks about Skyline and has been concerned about the negative perception among neighbors.

“I love the Skyline classrooms and think they are the greatest in the district but as the main piece of our community, I felt (the exterior) was really lacking,” Leib said. “I knew the vegetation would grow eventually but it was a really poor result that we had that we needed to do something about.”

Leib said he is hopeful that by bringing the artists on board they will be able to turn a negative into “an incredible positive.”

“We’re going to have an award-winning school when it’s all done,” Leib said.