Laguna Beach artist James Thistlethwaite debuts mural installations at the Promenade on Forest

The City of Laguna Beach recently dedicated a new pedestrian promenade on Forest Avenue as part of the Business Economic Revitalization Plan, providing adequate space for social distancing and decks for dining and retail. Another addition to the Promenade has been public art installations including street murals by Laguna Beach artist James Thistlethwaite. 

 Thistlethwaite, who is originally from Britain, works in pencil and other dry mediums. He earned his BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia. Before starting his MFA in painting at the Laguna College of Art and Design, Thistlethwaite worked as a studio assistant with artists and mentors such as Kehinde Wiley and street artist Ben Eine. Since graduating from Laguna College of Art and Design, Thistlethwaite has called Laguna Canyon home and where he is pursuing his career as an artist and teaching at the College.

Laguna Beach sea lion

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Local artist James Thistlethwaite and his sea lion mural 

 His latest installations on the Promenade on Forest consist of six large-scale street-installed murals. The original pencil drawings have been reproduced and installed onto the street. Representing outdoor pursuits of our oceans and mountains, the installations are distinctly recognizable as Thistlethwaite’s work and energy.

Thistlethwaite said, “I’ve loved being involved with the Forest Avenue art installation and hope local residents and visitors see a little bit of themselves and the community of Laguna in the work.”

Arts Commissioner Donna Ballard said, “The installation is not instantly recognizable as a traditional public art piece because you have to experience the pieces as you walk up the street. It is a creative way to designate the fire lane that was required to run along the center of the street, and it is an exciting, beautifully executed, and innovative addition to the temporary public art program.”

Laguna Beach surfer

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Thistlethwaite’s surfer girl mural 

Arts Commission Chair Adam Schwerner added, “It is important to the City and Arts Commission to support our local artists. Marlo and son Jesse Bartels introduce the Promenade at Coast Highway and James takes you on a journey along the street. We hope to be supporting more local artists in the coming weeks and hope they feel the freedom to think outside the traditional realms, just like these artists have done.”

Thistelthawite’s work will be on display through September 7, 2020 and was funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.