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Pacific Beach rec center receives a facelift with mosaic art mural

Pacific Beach residents are celebrating the transformation of a building that has been around for 70 years.

SAN DIEGO — Neighbors in Pacific Beach are celebrating the transformation of a building that has been around for 70 years. The north-facing wall of the PB Recreation Center has morphed into the PB Community Surf Garden.

“Here you have, of course, the mosaic surfboards, there’s 45 of these on the wall,” said PB Honorary Mayor, Brian Curry, while pointing to the mosaic surfboards mounted to the wall. “All of them are tile mosaic, they’ve all been sealed so they will last forever.”

It’s been four years in the making, but for Curry, artist Rob Tobin, and all the volunteers who made this project possible, the results speak for themselves.

“They’re all used surfboards, they’ve all been in the water, right, but now they’re on the wall,” said Curry proudly. “They’re all mosaic, beautiful with that glass and tile mosaic.”

The mosaic masterpiece was funded entirely by community donations, $90 thousand dollars-worth, with each donor memorialized in little surfboard tiles at the bottom of the mural.

“There’s so much history here. People are really eager to be a part of it, and to have a little piece of their story put on the wall, you know, in perpetuity,” said Curry.

Back in 2019 before the whole journey started, the PB Rec Center was in need of a fresh, new look.

“Big, blank, City of San Diego beige wall, that’s what it was before,” said Curry.

“Growing up in Pacific Beach, I’d always pass this big, beige, block plain building,” said Charlie Nieto, president of the PB Town Council, the main sponsor of the surf garden.

Neighbors from all over PB put their blood, sweat, and tears into the mosaic mural, with the entire effort led by the creative vision of Tobin, who specializes in art with community involvement using reclaimed materials.

“This was a huge community push that made it possible to build all the surfboard tiles, to paint the walls, put them all up there,” said Nieto.

To top it off, the art mural is on its way to becoming an official piece of the City of San Diego’s Civic Art Collection. 

“I was really surprised at how nice it looks, it’s really nice artwork, it’s beautifully done,” said PB resident, Julia Deardorff. “It’s unique, it suits the beach area because there’s surfboards, it dresses it up beautifully.”

From permitting to planning to the design and execution, it’s been a long road and well worth it, but there is still more to be done as volunteers look to beautify the south wall of the Rec Center with another mosaic design.

“There’s still multiple phases in the future like the landscaping and lighting that’s supposed to be here to help emphasize the true value that this brings to the community as well as the south wall that’ll add a whole other component to the design,” said Nieto.

To learn more about the ongoing mosaic mural beautification project or to donate for future phases, go to the project webpage.

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