By B. J. Coleman
Downtown painter gears up for ArtWalk
Rebecca Noelle is a plein air painter, an artist who paints scenes on-site outdoors. Noelle is slated to be one of the artists displaying their creative original artwork during ArtWalk @ Liberty Station Aug. 11-12. The theme for this year’s 13th annual staging of the event at the former Naval Training Center is “Connecting Creative Communities.”
Noelle spent two weeks in late July connecting with creative community arts fans in Normal Heights, as she painted a utility box near the corner of Adams Avenue and Felton Street. She chose to depict scenes in acrylics of nearby landmark buildings and houses, including The Ould Sod Irish pub across the avenue and the Methodist Church farther east. Noelle was one of 16 artists tapped to decorate electrical boxes around the area, through proposal submission to the Normal Heights Urban Art Association, with support from the Adams Avenue Business District.
“I have never felt so appreciated as an artist,” Noelle said. She mentioned people who stopped by her work site daily, including children who enjoyed watching progress on the utility box artwork, especially the small animals Noelle included among the scenes. “This is a gift, my gift to the community,” Noelle said.
Noelle and her family lived in Downtown’s Little Italy from 2010 through 2015. She taught art classes at Washington Elementary School and at the San Diego Rescue Mission.
Noelle painted outside at Balboa Park locations for two years, and several of those paintings are currently on display at Hotel Solamar in the Downtown Gaslamp District.
“I think I could paint at Balboa Park for the rest of my life,” Noelle said. “I feel like I’ve barely touched the surface of what can be painted there.”
Art was not Noelle’s first career path, although she began oil painting when she was 15. She took up professional ballroom dancing at 16, touring around the country from her Idyllwild home base. Significant life changes and the need for a fresh start brought Noelle to San Diego, and Noelle’s painter mother suggested, “Pick up your paints. This will be good for your soul.”
Noelle recounted that she experienced some nervousness over beginning to paint outdoors in public. “I feel safe now,” she said. “And I want to branch out from my comfort zone.
“I love plein air painting,” Noelle said. “I love being outside in nature amid beautiful things. I love creating something beautiful. That makes people happy. I want to continue to challenge myself, to find balance in life, and to create better art all the time.”
Noelle is joining more than 200 local, regional and international professional artists whose artwork will be shown and available for purchase during ArtWalk @ Liberty Station. The free two-day fine arts festival runs from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11, and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 12. Art on display is set to include not only oil paintings like Noelle’s work but also sculpture, glass, photography, wood work, metal work, fine jewelry and multimedia art.
KidsWalk will feature interactive art activities for families. Street food trucks will offer meal options for attendees. Proceeds from a wine and beer pavilion will go to benefit ArtReach, which provides free art classes to over 20,000 students throughout San Diego County.
Festival organizers staged the original ArtWalk in Little Italy 34 years ago, and then expanded by incorporating the late summer show at Point Loma’s Liberty Station 13 years ago.
Arts District of Liberty Station, Ingram Plaza, 2751 Dewey Road. A North County fine art and chalk festival with ArtWalk Carlsbad in scheduled for September. Visit artwalksandiego.org.
—B. J. Coleman is a local freelance journalist and editor/staff reporter with 22nd District Legionnaire. B. J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.