The east facing wall of Señor Grubby’s in the Carlsbad Village, also known as the Carlsbad Art Wall (CAW), has been painted by a growing collection of visiting artists—each exhibiting drastically different personalities and visual aesthetics. The inaugural visiting street artist from Los Angeles was bumblebeelovesyou with easily digestible imagery and kid friendly scenery. Following was Morley and his highly interactive memory resurfacing mural. The weird and wacky can-work of Annie Preece followed.
Carlsbad artist and project director Bryan Snyder curates each artist with the intention of providing a drastically different visual and conceptual experience each mural, as well as slowly introducing more progressive art to the Carlsbad Village.
On Saturday, August 29, Los Angles street and fine artist Devin Liston began painting his ‘Magician’ on the CAW. Los Angeles contemporaries expressed great anticipation as Liston, former member of the highly respected collective CYRCLE and recently working with Russian/American duo deviNgosha, has a long history of impressive work.
Some artists prefer to keep the final piece a mystery during the creative process while others sporadically change plan. Liston showcased his design by taping print out to the unfinished wall exhibiting his confidence and ability at realism.
Early outlines of Liston’s portrait, a tall hooded character, gained instant attention. In a community where the public is accustomed to marine life, cheerful animals, beachscapes and kid friendly imagery, Liston’s preliminary sketches already showcased departure—both visually and conceptually.
Drenched in sweat and skin bronzed under the mid-summer sun, Liston continued to build his character through layers of black and white. Carefully executed shades of gray defined the intricate wrinkles in the hood. An integral strip of masking tape divided the perfectly rendered lower half of the hooded character from the top portion of the face, which Liston completely buffed in a solid black. Roused hands hinted at agitation and uncertainty inviting spectators to speculate what the round fingers once gripped.
A large crowd lined the CAW fence including the passing Euphoria Brass Band brought to town by the Carlsbad Music Festival. Each observer remarked on the uncanny ability of Liston to recreate the portrait entirely in spray can in masterful perfection, along with many questions regarding the significance of the hooded character, the half hidden face and the colorful abstractions the swarmed the figure.
Liston’s answers to the barrage of questions remained vague and cryptic. Besides the title of the piece and a playful visual description, spectators were left to formulate their own meaning, ultimately encouraging all to look deeper within—to find the elusive conceptualizations other Carlsbad Village murals do not provoke.
Every CAW mural exhibits masterful skill, each unique to each other. Liston’s talents come in the form of extremes. Visually, the perfectly rendered portrait offers a rewarding gaze. On the other hand, inspired by the visual, one can completely depart to a deeper, potentially darker, conceptual analysis.
In a creative community that has slowly become relevant in broader art discussions and has received widespread support of urban art, Liston’s ‘Magician’ is adding some new vocabulary—it might just be what the Carlsbad Village art scene needs.