By Morgan M. Hurley | Editor
North Park fixture gets an unexpected makeover by an internationally known artist
Sometime over the last week or 10 days, the L-shaped, two-story building that has been a longtime fixture at the northeast corner of University Avenue and Florida Street had a major face lift. As a result, social media has gone wild as local residents weigh in.
While the brick along the base of the building at 2004 University Ave. remains untouched, the rest of the structure has been transformed into a rainbow wonderland. Some think the bright, ragged, multi-colored theme is garish and over the top. Other people, including many from the LGBT community whose 60-foot Pride flag monument is just three blocks west of the building, think it is fabulous.
The man behind the vivid makeover, Los Angeles-based graffiti and street artist RISK (born in Louisiana as Kelly Graval, according to Wikipedia) and also known as RISKY, posted “progress shots” of the building’s takeover on his @riskrock Instagram feed.
While some have professed hope that the paint job is temporary, now that we know it is the work of an internationally known artist with over 100,000 followers, we’re pretty sure it is here to stay, as any other mural around the city.
Gay San Diego tried to track down the owners and/or tenants of the building for comment and surprisingly, it was nearly impossible.
Just two years ago the building, which for decades had formerly housed an F Street Bookstore, reopened as The General Store North Park with a new, more refined look and style; large, open windows to the street, a brick façade on its lower half and earth tone colors on the rest; and very different stock on the shelves.
Poised as a third-generation retail shop, The General Store offered jeans, work clothing, uniforms, apothecary, satchels, leather and other dry goods. It was open daily and appeared to be doing well.
Unfortunately, as of Monday, Oct. 23, The General Store’s phone number was no longer in service and its website could no longer be reached. On Wednesday, we showed up on its doorstep during advertised working hours. While there was a car in the driveway and lights on inside, doors were locked and no one could be seen through the windows. Stock, however, was still on display.
We learned of a second owner — or tenant, we’re not sure which — Sequoia Investments, co-owned by Alex Pellegrino and Sasha Favelukis. When we visited the physical location, we noticed that Sequoia has a nameplate on the small, windowless east end of the building, but it was unclear if the two upstairs units are apartments or offices.
When we reached out to Sequoia Investments, a spokesperson told us that both gentlemen were “working on a very time consuming new endeavor” and would not be available for a couple of weeks. We sent questions via email but they went unanswered.
Thanks to some sleuthing, we found comments from the two business partners on social media, some in direct response to people’s negative comments about the paint job. Our web search uncovered amateur photos of the building posted in NextDoor, on people’s individual Facebook feeds, and Pellegrino himself posted what appears to be a professional photo of the building on Oct. 21 in the North Park, San Diego Facebook group. He was looking for feedback and even verbally tussled with some of the commenters. The response was mixed but mostly positive.
Overall, we’d say about 75 percent of the feedback we’ve seen across the various social media platforms has been positive, especially on @riskrock’s Instagram feed.
In lieu of hard and fast facts on the make-over and the status of the building, we will instead share a variety of the comments here, in an anonymous state, in the hopes that we’ll get some feedback and an update from the folks at Sequoia Investments in the coming weeks.
We like the makeover. It’s a burst of sunshine in the otherwise lengthy upgrade of the Georgia Street Bridge, just steps away. What do you think about the building?
— Morgan M. Hurley can be reached at email@example.com.
Social media responds to the new rainbow theme of 2004 University Ave.:
—The General Store at Florida & University just got a new paint job. I can’t decide if I love it or hate it.
—I like it. I don’t like that brick!
—Looks like they need to attract some attention to their store.
—Let’s hope that’s just the base coat. I’m guessing there will be some black sections over portions, in the top coat.
—The end product, with its muting effects, is be-yoo-ti-ful, is my take! And it should give the General Store a helpful shot in the arm — a boon for them.
—I love it! It’s unique and bright. Another positive side effect is that the bright colors detract from how dirty and littered the sidewalks are. So, it’s a win-win.
—It’s definitely cheerful! I think we all need a bit more of that
—I am kinda liking it more and more as I pass by. My boyfriend thinks it is hideous.
—The paint job doesn’t complement the existing brick at all. The disparity is glaring and now the building just looks half-finished and out of place.
—Was a dump, now it’s a colorful dump!
—Love it! celebrating culturally diversity in the business community.
—I don’t know why I’m seeing a lot of negativity about the paint job. Hello people, rainbows are about unity and diversity. And this intersection pretty much divides NP from HC so I think it’s a great little bold neighborhood divider
—I drove by this … today, it’s really striking. I almost crashed my car.
—It looks good I think, it’s for sure eye popping. They do need to be sure to keep it up though, these bright colors have a tendency to fade pretty quickly.
—OMG who wants to live next to a carnival show?
—This will surely become an icon and one of the most Instagram-able walls in Uptown. People will flock to post pictures here. We need more of this in Hillcrest to promote our neighborhood!
—I think it’s a great way for people to leave North Park and enter Hillcrest, especially when the bridge is finished! Once they come up the hill they’ll see the red places going up near 7-11! I agree, I love it
—What the neighborhood really needs is to have home prices more affordable to the average buyer. More homeowners = more pride in their neighborhood …
—I went by it today and gasped. I’m a bit old fashioned, I admit, but it seemed garish to me. But, I reserve judgment based on what its use will be. It could be appropriate …
—It needed color on that corner. The dark color before just receded into the background of the street. Hopefully this will draw some attention and life into that corner.
—I have a feeling this is the base coat of paint and they are going to paint a top coat. This is just too sloppy to leave it like this. If it is the real paint job, might I suggest a paint party at midnight.
—I think it’s truly awful. I’m hoping it’s temporary. It’s also incredibly poorly applied. They’ve sprayed plants, sidewalk etc. Looks like trash.
- North Park, San Diego group
—Art. Because art. I can hear the same being said about one’s tattoo. This property belongs to someone, that someone said “This is mine, this is how I want it to look.”
—We need more color in our world!
—I think it’s rad!
—I really dig it
—There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with giving that corner on University a big splash of color! It was kinda a dull spot after coming out from the small bridge leaving the very vibrant west side of University that it gives more of a continuum and cohesiveness that should continue on up going east.
—It looks better than the shabby run-down look it had before
—Cool! Maybe it’ll drive out the stuffed shirts cause I’d rather have character in my neighborhood
—Absolutely perfect. Beautiful!
—I love that the owners took a risk and am so intrigued by the artist who did this! This is what it’s all about, opening minds and seeing color!
—Great for giving people, directions … it’s really unusual, but sort of fun … and nobody can say, “It needs a pop of color.”
—It can grow on you. Now that I see it with the brick base, not too bad.
—I like it. But it would work better and feel cleaner and more modern if the brick was painted a flat white.
—Better than most of what University Avenue has going on. For retail, it grabs your attention. Frankly, that corner did not get any attention for the clothing boutique that was there. So, for marketing and also artistically speaking, it was a great way to marry the two.
—Furthermore, if you don’t like it, then it does its job. Frankly it’s better to have someone feel something vs. have no reaction or feeling from it. That would be what art is. Can’t please everyone but at least it makes you have an opinion one way or another.
—Leaving raw materials such as brick and wood to be as they are is actually architecturally accurate. Paint can always be redone down the road but getting paint off of brick is not something you really want to have to do.
—Unimpressed. RISK has done better. The photo looks great with the angle and all, but in person it just looks sloppy. Particularly the paint on the sidewalk. Not sure if that part was intentional or not. Either way, it’s better than the old F Street.
—Like a gay Pride flag barfed all over a Latin American shantytown.
—I love color but this just looks wrong to me. A mural would have been better
—It definitely photographs well. Wasn’t a fan but in the pic the colors really pop.
—Hideous. It makes my eyes hurt.
—In the picture it looks nice, in real life looks outta place.
—Gorgeous expression of joy life happiness kindness and love … it’s perfect! I drove past today it’s stunning.