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Dig Imperial Beach

Whale Mural Installed on Palm Avenue in Imperial Beach

Jun 09, 2017 06:12PM ● By Paul Spear

In the 60s and early 70s, the City of Imperial Beach’s motto was “Imperial Beach – a Whale of a Town!,” but over the years fell out of use.  Now, because of the cooperation between the city, local community organizations and the generosity of local businesses, the “whale” is experiencing a resurgence in the nation’s most southwesterly city.  The wall used to have advertisements for Soapy Joe’s Car Wash.  Now it’s clean cars and colorful whales on Palm Avenue!

“The City of Imperial Beach is grateful to Soapy Joe’s, artist Aaron Glasson, the PangeaSeed Foundation, Todd Stands of the IB Arts Bureau and Councilmember Mark West for working together to install a beautiful ocean-themed welcome mural at the entrance to our city. This is part of a larger effort to revitalize our Bayfront and beautify every corner of Imperial Beach," said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.

This mural was funded by Soapy Joe’s and private donations according to Imperial Beach City Councilman Mark West who was involved with putting the project together.  The space was donated by Soapy Joe’s, and internationally known artist Aaron Glasson executed the massive public artwork.

Glasson’s work as an urban “interactive” artist with public installations around the world, including Vietnam, Mexico, Sri Lanka as well as the United States.  Although now spending most of his time residing in the South Bay, Glasson, a native of New Zealand, departed for New York and Europe once the Imperial Beach was completed this week. 

The mural is part of a larger world-wide network of art that the nonprofit PangeaSeed Foundation is establishing, and it’s second installation of public art in Imperial Beach.  The first mural is located on Second Street and Palm, by artist Brian Hebits.

The PangeaSeed Foundation is an international non-profit organization that says it is “acting at the intersection of culture and environmentalism to further the conservation of our oceans collaborating with members of the art, science, and environmental activist communities to raise awareness and education surrounding the conservation and preservation threatened marine species and ecosystems.”  For local Imperial Beach residents, that sounds right up their alley.

Glasson says his work is "autobiographical, inspired by his life, life encountered and the sometimes inexplicable nature of being.  Exploring the coexistence of the unseen and the observed.”  His diverse portfolio consists of vibrant murals, paintings, illustration, films and interactive installations.

Soapy Joe’s originally intended to replace the signage above the mural but was so pleased with the aesthetics that they have opted not to.  Future plans call for some more “blue sky” and perhaps a seagull or two to complete the scene.  


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