Next time you’re driving through the part of town where Harbor Blvd. kisses 19th Street, you might notice that a heretofore nondescript bench alcove, alongside Triangle Square, has received a fresh (and refreshingly floral) coat of paint.
The piece – titled ‘Costa Mesa Bloom’ – is the latest in a recent flurry of new murals to hit the City of the Arts. ‘Bloom’ is a beautiful, abstract, showstopper-of-a-mural – designed and painted by acclaimed artist Aaron Glasson – and commissioned by local tourism group, Travel Costa Mesa.
It’s not just unique in its use of vibrant colors and cityscape-inspired angles – it also envelopes the alcove bench itself. So, when you’re done feasting your eyes on the artwork, you can comfortably rest your tush on it, too.
ARTIST AARON GLASSON, AND HIS ‘COSTA MESA BLOOM’ MURAL, AT TRIANGLE SQUARE.
Photo: Brandy Young
Glasson is no stranger to mural-making – his website features an array of artwork, adorning buildings and walls around the world – and creativity has been a part of story since he was very young.
“Like most children, I was artistic,” said Glasson. “But from an early age I was super into drawing, more so than most of my peers. My parents like to say the early signs were there. I also loved building things and had a wild imagination. I lived in a fantasy world most of the time and, even into adulthood, that hasn’t really changed. My art is just an extension of what I was already doing as a kid. In a lot of ways, I just never grew up.”
Glasson paints the outward manifestations of his rich, inner world in an effort to beautify communities.
“I deeply believe in the power of public art to invigorate our urban landscapes, and the lives of those who inhabit them,” wrote Glasson, in his proposal applying for the Costa Mesa mural. “I strive to create art that immediately becomes an intrinsic landmark in its location, profoundly reflecting the values and aspirations of the local community and businesses.”
Photo: Brandy Young
In Costa Mesa’s case, Glasson drew upon three major elements which – when combined – seek to embody the diversity and eclectic nature of our city.
First, abstract shapes.
“The abstract shapes in the background of my mural are inspired by architecture,” said Glasson. “I looked at the lines of the Triangle Square building itself, for inspiration. Then, I also reference some of the more prominent builds in Costa Mesa – like the Segerstrom Center – in the piece. And, of course, the large circle is my sun.”
The second element is the flora – or plants – adorning the alcove.
“Gardens don’t work if there’s only one species of flower,” explained Glasson. “A healthy garden has a lot of diversity. The same is true of communities. Diversity within the population strengthens communities, making a healthy, successful city. So this mural features flora that’s endemic to the area, and flora that is not. It’s a metaphorical representation of Costa Mesa being a blend of locals, visitors, and people who have moved here from other parts of the world.”
The third major element of the mural is color, which is pretty self-evident when you see it. Glasson’s piece adds multi-hued vibrancy to a previously monochromatic space.
It isn’t just the design that appeals to Glasson, installation can be its own reward.
“It took me four days to paint the mural,” said Glasson. “It was a Monday through a Thursday, 10-12 hours a day, each day. Sometimes, that’s the best part of painting a mural, because people stop and ask questions, chat with you – people you might never meet otherwise.
“When you’re painting a mural, it’s messy. You’re in your dingy clothes and covered in paint, and I think that makes you more approachable – gives you a sort of magnetism. Because I’m not dressed in my normal clothes, I seem to transcend societal norms, and I get all kinds of people to stop and talk to me. Everyone from the homeless, to extremely well-to-do art lovers, will chat up a muralist while he’s painting.”
ARCHITECTURAL SHAPES, FLORA AND COLOR DEFINE GLASSON’S COSTA MESA MURAL.
Photos: Brandy Young
Glasson doesn’t live in Costa Mesa, but the Triangle Square mural isn’t his first brush with the city. He recalls displaying some art at a gallery at The LAB, back in 2012. He’s also collaborated a few times with locally-based action-sports and apparel company, Volcom.
“Volcom likes to collaborate with artists on doing limited runs of apparel,” said Glasson. “Last year, they released some clothing with my art on it, which was really cool. I’m big into ocean conservation, so they printed my art on board shorts made of recycled bottles, and on organic cotton tee-shirts. It was all limited-edition.
“I think the things they are doing over at Volcom are really interesting. They aren’t afraid to get edgy, make a statement, and go beyond what most surf/skate companies are doing.”
Photo: Brandy Young
So, what is Glasson’s “outsider in” perspective on our coastal town?
“Costa Mesa is a very eclectic place, full of hidden gems,” said Glasson. “Like, this last visit, I went over to check out Noguchi Garden. That’s a perfect example of a hidden gem. You’re coming out of this parking garage – next to an unassuming office building – turn the corner and suddenly you’re in this just incredible, incredible space!
“I’m a huge fan of his work, so I ended up staying for hours at Noguchi Garden, that day. I love how biomorphic it is. Noguchi was able to take natural materials, like rock and stone, and translate them into something that looks almost weightless. Somehow, Noguchi Garden manages to be very Japanese – in its minimalism and placement – yet still very Californian. There’s something so magical about it.”
So now that ‘Bloom’ is getting buzz, does he have any near-future plans for more Costa Mesa public works of art?
“I am dying to paint another wall at Triangle Square,” said Glasson. “I’ve got my eye on that big wall above the Halloween Bootique sign. If I can get my hands on that, it will be one of the biggest murals in Costa Mesa. We’ll see. It’s not a done deal or anything, but I’m working on it.”
And as for the mural he’s already completed?
“I hope it brightens people’s day,” he said. “I try to create work that’s generally uplifting. I don’t expect people to get my conceptual concerns, right away. I just want them to get a kick out of it.” ♥