“It’s a pretty good turnout. There’s lots of odds and ends — little art projects,” said Bird Rock Coffee Roasters owner Chuck Patton, who had an open mic going at 5627 La Jolla Blvd. “It’s just nice to give people a reason to come down and walk around — that doesn’t happen enough.
“The great thing about this is it didn’t require a lot on the part of the merchants,” Patton continued. “It was strictly casual, a low-effort affair. The great thing is people are responding to it.”
Down the street at La Jolla Independent BMW at 5535 La Jolla Blvd., crafter Rob Baumgart was busy teaching children how to convert damaged metal car hoods into ornamental art.
Baumgart said he got the idea about seven years ago working with the children of the body shop’s owners.
“We just started playing around and I hammered out a turtle one day and it evolved from there,” he said, standing underneath one of his more challenging — and colorful — sculptures, a painted humpback whale.
Metal sculpture is mostly a hobby, noted Baumgart, who said it takes about 10 hours to hammer out a whale, though it takes significantly less time for one of his trademark terrapins. Baumgart has fashioned more than 100 metal turtles and sold or donated them to people for special occasions.
Asked if metal sculpture was tough to do, Baumgart said he has taught kids at Bird Rock Elementary School “who’d never hammered anything how to make a (turtle).”
Bird Rock artist Jane Wheeler helped youngsters create sidewalk chalk drawings at the event.
Wheeler said the La Jolla neighborhood is rapidly becoming a mecca for arts and crafts, boasting four main galleries — Bird Rock Art Nest of La Jolla at 5648 La Jolla Blvd.; Bird rock Arts Gallery & Studio at 5785 La Jolla Blvd.; Suite B, GALERIe at 5629 La Jolla Blvd.; and Moonglow Design at 5763 La Jolla Blvd. Other craft shops exist on the boulevard, as well, like Beads of La Jolla at 5645 La Jolla Blvd. and Needlecraft of La Jolla at 5685 La Jolla Blvd., plus music shops like Nightingale Music at 5631-C La Jolla Boulevard, Riffs Acoustic Music at 5510 La Jolla Blvd. and Prodigy School of Arts at 5725 La Jolla Blvd.
“There’s a whole art vibe percolating in Bird Rock and we’re trying to leverage that and put it into the different community events,” said Wheeler, founder of Bird Rock Artist Guild.
Wheeler said Bird Rock’s first Summer Walk was patterned after Italian strolls held in Europe where families roam their downtown districts after hours.
“It’s a community event with an artist twist,” she said.
For the event, restaurants along the commercial strip offered dinner specials, while All About Animals pet shop provided dog tattoos and Jerry Klein at A Better Deal Tuxedo had a magician on the sidewalk and another shop owner had a makeup artist out front. There was a musician playing — and demonstrating how to play — an Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo in front of the new Chase Bank branch.
“The music was all grass roots from the community, people donating their time and doing their creativity, which is fun,” said Wheeler, adding singers from La Jolla High and Muirlands Middle School also entertained passers-by. “It was a chance for businesses to show off what they have and for people to find out that they’re there and stumble upon them in a fun way.”
Wheeler said there’s a synergy between art and business in Bird Rock.
“People are picking up and incorporating art into their business,” she said. “It just makes for a more vibrant community and a more interesting place to come and shop. If you can fuse the two together, you can create an environment that’s really creative and successful.”
The event was deemed a success afterward.
“I think the Summer Walk was a huge success,” concluded Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) president Jacqueline Bell. “We had great neighborhood turnout and everyone I talked with had a good time.”
Bell said there hasn’t been time yet to make any decisions about hosting future similar events.
“The board will discuss the matter at our next meeting (in September),” she said.