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San Clemente Journal

The Art of Avenida Del Mar

May 22, 2019 10:36AM ● By Tom Marshall
by Tom Marshall, SC historical Society

Fifteen years ago the San Clemente Historical Society, with much help and support from the City of San Clemente and the approval of the Downtown Business Association, began the installation of beautiful works of art in the rest bench areas of Avenida Del Mar.  Perhaps you have noticed the tiles while taking a break from strolling down Del Mar.  Some of our most notable buildings are enshrined on tile representing various eras of San Clemente’s storied past.  Artist Jay Fisher’s watercolors were transferred to tile by tile master Michael King.  The paintings were done from photographs; some very old historic photos.
 The original concept developed by longtime Historical Society board member Mike Cotter envisioned a total of 14 images along the 100 and 200 blocks of Avenida Del Mar. Phase One is now complete.  Eight images are installed in the 100 block.  They include renderings of The Ole Hanson Beach Club, St. Clements Church, Hanson’s Office Building, San Clemente Hotel, The Bartow House and Casino San Clemente.
Each image has been funded by local individuals.  Plaques are being installed alongside the image identifying the patron such as Ray and Carol Benedicktus, Rudolph and Virginia Smith and Reuel and Frank Witherell, or in memory of a loved one like James J. Woods or “Poopah” and “Lady” Smith.  The tiles were installed by the city at a minimal cost to the Historical Society.  Some are on the walls; others are on the pavement in front of the benches.
With Phase One now wrapping up, the Historical Society and its partners are launching Phase Two which consists of the final six images; four in the rest areas of the 200 block and two at the intersection of Avenida Del Mar and Ola Vista. 


The first image in this phase is the Goldschmidt House and is already funded by former owners Lee and Dena Van Slyke. The other works of art depict the Beachcomber Motel, the Easely Building, the Robison House (Sea Cliff Villas), Casa Romantica, and the former Western White House Casa Pacifica.  Patrons for these images are now being sought.  Individuals, businesses or groups are invited to contact the San Clemente Historical Society at [email protected] to reserve a sponsorship. 
“This is an opportunity for everyone to contribute to the artistic vibe of our beautiful Spanish village by the sea,” said Historical Society president Larry Culbertson.  “We especially want to thank Lee Van Slyke who has agreed to lead Phase Two of this project for us.”
The Historical Society will own all but two of the original watercolors.  Artist Jay Fisher is keeping two for his children to own.  Reproductions of the watercolors owned by the Historical Society will be available for purchase in a few months.  Fisher has also agreed to sign and number a limited edition of these paintings.  The Historical Society will have an announcement about where and when those sales take place later this year. b