Encinitas Art Auction Backstory

Art auction at Cardiff Town Center
  • Art auction at Cardiff Town Center

Over 100 people turned out for Encinitas' 101 Artist Colony's banner auction on May 20. The annual art sale invited 97 local artists to submit original paintings, on white vinyl banners, that were then hung on area lampposts beginning in February.

The banners, in three sizes (from 18 x 50 inches, to 30 x 84 inches), were hung along Coast Hwy. 101 from Leucadia to Cardiff's Restaurant Row; also at the Cardiff Town Center, where the auction was held and the banners displayed. Minimum bid on each banner was $150.

The artist received half of the auctioned price, with the remainder going the Leucadia, Encinitas, and Cardiff 101 mainstreet associations, depending on how many banners hung within each organization’s area. Leucadia hung 17; downtown Encinitas, 58; and Cardiff hoisted 22 banners.

This year's banner program was held in honor of Maggie Houlihan, the former Encinitas city councilwoman who died in 2011 while serving on the council. She was said to be one of the city's biggest supporters of the arts. The 101 Artist Colony pictured Houlihan on the back of each banner this year. However, Encinitas' city manager and city attorney subsequently said the sponsoring organizations could not hang the banners on public lampposts because they depicted a political figure.

Program coordinator Danny Salzhandler had to spend over $1000 applying custom-made stickers to cover up Houlihan's image. Only after Ms. Houlihan's husband, Ian Thompson, threatened to sue the city, did the city staff relent, and the stickers were removed. Passing motorists had a few weeks to view the banners as they passed by.

Betty Bird placed the highest bid ($910) on banner #29, by Grammy award–winning artist Jim Warren, artist for Bob Seger's 1980 Against the Wind album cover. The banner depicted a paintbrush-holding hand, piercing through an artist's canvas of an ocean scene. Several other banners went for $300 or more.

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