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San Clemente Journal

"Open Door Policy" - Public Art on the Pier

Mar 03, 2020 09:51AM ● By Lori Donchak

Andi Gould, above, won a call for artists to create public art which will be added to a utility door on the pier restroom after the remodeling is done.

by Lori Donchak

San Clemente embraces public art as part of its identity; evidenced in the pavement tile murals on Avenida Del Mar, the mosaic bench on the beach trail near Riviera, historic images on Ralph’s grocery store on El Camino Real, and the colorful utility boxes around town. The list of favorites is endless.

Public art is good for the soul. It brings energy and the gift of delight to the viewer. In San Clemente, the majority of our art is done by local artists, which in part explains the sense of authenticity and the deep connection created with residents.
Andi’s playful entry “Open Door Policy” was chosen for its lighthearted humor.


The newest public art will be unveiled on San Clemente Pier this year thanks to the PierPride Foundation. PierPride is partnering with the city of San Clemente to renovate the restroom at the end of the Pier. As part of the approved project, PierPride offered to fundraise so that public art could be incorporated into the design of an otherwise very functional facility. The City agreed, and a call for artists was made October 2019. The art canvas is a steel storage door on the restroom, the ideal place for some splash.

PierPride Foundation board member Eileen Kawas stepped up to sponsor the initiative. Her generosity allowed the project to be a reality, and her wish was that the art might put a smile on the faces of two million folks who visit the Pier each year. 

“I’d like our art to be an Instagram moment, a place where people stop to take a picture that will help them remember their San Clemente Pier experience.” Eileen was confident artists would respond to the chance to have their original work in such a special place.

And San Clemente is brimming with artistic talent, according to Amber Gregg. Amber came forward to chair the public art committee for PierPride. As former City Planner for San Clemente (2006-2018) she has since established a City Planning and Entitlement consulting and advocacy firm and was the ideal leader.  The Pier holds a special place in her life as she and husband Sean Nicholas lived in the Pier Bowl and were engaged at Parque Del Mar.

Importantly, Amber created the successful utility box public art program and was able to bring that experience to the Pier art process. She believes the goal of the art should be to contribute to the vitality of the Pier. Suggested themes were local history, surf culture, nature, or the Pier’s fishing history.  Built in 1928, the Pier appears on the City’s list of historical and cultural resources and is one of the City’s most beloved assets.

The call for artists yielded 17 high quality submissions. An art jury created by Amber comprised a PierPride board member, a member of San Clemente Arts Association, a city council member, and a city staff member. They unanimously picked a winner, albeit with considerable discussion as all submissions were excellent.

Open Door Policy by local artist Andi Goud was chosen. Amber shared the jury’s assessment of the art. “In the cheeky Open Door Policy mural, Andi added unexpected whimsy to a common maintenance door transforming it to an art piece that is sure to spark surprise and joy in anyone who passes by it.  In addition, her play on words for the title of the piece is truly charming and uplifting.” PierPride board members were delighted by the committee recommendation and especially responded to the simple, playful and almost stealthy personality of the octopus.
Andi herself is a champion of San Clemente public art. The historic mural at Pico Plaza is one of her most well-known murals, having once been mistakenly white-washed and then repainted when the community protested its removal. She also worked with San Clemente Auto Wrecking when owner Ron Perugini wanted to add a little personality to the Los Molinos business district and commissioned Andi to create a vibrant ocean-themed wall mural. Andi believes public art brings people together and creates a shared identity for a community. 

Open Door Policy is a gift to the city from PierPride Foundation. It will be reviewed by San Clemente’s Design Review Committee, the Beaches Parks and Recreation Commission and City Council, as it’s public art in arguably the most public place in San Clemente. 

Is there more opportunity for public art on the Pier? “Absolutely!” says Amber Gregg.  “The City and the Community have done a great job infusing art in and around the Pier.  From the majestic bronzed statue at Park Semper Fi to tile murals of historic images on the restrooms at the base of the Pier, our values and artistic culture are well represented in the Pier Bowl area. The good news is there’s always room for more art, and art in all forms.  Open Door Policy will be the first of many public art pieces PierPride will help shepherd to the area.”

Look for Andi to begin her masterpiece once the restroom’s functional restoration is complete. Do you have a place on the Pier you think merits artistic attention? Let PierPride Foundation know at PierPride is a local non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing San Clemente Pier.