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May 6, 2014

Bob Partlow (left) shakes hands with Terry Weaver in front of their new sign near the Santa Fe underpass. The two artists joined forces for the piece, which greets people coming into downtown Encinitas. Photo by Jared Whitlock

ENCINITAS — What’s known as the Encinitas sign arcs over Coast Highway 101 and D Street. Now, the southern portion of downtown has a landmark welcoming people.

Residents and city officials celebrated the debut of a new 8 foot-by-10-foot sandblasted redwood sign near the Santa Fe Undercrossing on May 6. Part mosaic, part mural — two artists joined forces for the project.

Terry Weaver, one of the artists, said he “pretty much accidentally” became involved with the piece.

About three years ago, he created a mosaic of the Encinitas city seal. But, the artwork didn’t have a home, so Weaver walked into the Encinitas 101 Mainstreet Association office one day in hopes of finding a location . Impressed by the piece, Encinitas 101 representatives recommended affixing the artwork to the downtown sign, which was only in the planning stages at that point.

“When we saw this mosaic, we said, ‘holy moly — we have to include it,’” said Dody Crawford, executive director of Encinitas 101. Spearheaded by the Encinitas 101 board, the sign has been in the works for more than five years. Most of the funding came from an $11,000 county Board of Supervisors community development grant.

“This sign dresses up downtown and let’s people know what’s in store for them when passing through,” Crawford said. “It’s a great way to welcome them.”

To Weaver, whose other miniature mosaics adorn downtown Encinitas sidewalks, the sign represents the best parts of Encinitas — a city he holds dear.

“I’ve lived in Hawaii for 26 years now, but I grew up in Encinitas, and my heart is still here,” Weaver said, adding that he flew into town just for the unveiling.

“It’s really a fitting place for the mosaic,” Weaver said. Initially, the artists weren’t exactly sure where to place the piece. Weaver approached Don Hansen, who owns Hansen’s Surf Shop and the surrounding land. “I knew him years ago and he was very gracious in accommodating the sign,” Weaver said, noting one of Hansen’s classic surfboards makes a cameo in the mural.

Bob Partlow, the other artist, is no stranger to murals. He painted a welcome sign in Cardiff, and he owns the local company Bob Partlow Sign Artist.

While an experienced painter, he noted creating pieces takes him longer than most artists. That’s because a car battery explosion injured one of his eyes, destroying his depth perception.

“It doesn’t detract from how much I enjoy art,” Partlow said. “I’ll think every mural is my last, but I just keep on going,” he added. He welcomed the challenge of capturing downtown Encinitas, opting to depict local staples like the Boathouses, Encinitas Child, La Paloma Theatre, peeling waves at Swami’s Beach and the Santa Fe underpass.
“I love doing things like this for the community,” Partlow said.

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