Love Letters by Cassandra C. Jones

In partnership with MCASB and Ojai Artist Cassandra C. Jones

Paseo Nuevo, in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, commissioned Cassandra C. Jones to create Love Letters, a tile mural inspired by Santa Barbara’s heritage, architecture, and surroundings which are known to draw from Spanish and Mexican influences. The mural is part of Paseo Nuevo’s continued commitment to community art programming as well as to engaging visitors with new and reimagined experiences. Love Letters is a 600-tile mural that spans two walls in Paseo Nuevo’s lower north court entrance.

The entire mural is a kaleidoscope of collaged photographs printed on white ceramic tile, with 36 unique compositions repeated throughout. Upon closer investigation, each tile is its own vibrant work of art with a series of separate, smaller images collaged together to create a larger pattern: Spanish guitars form quatrefoil shapes, the fans of flamenco dancers become ocean waves, surfboards make up visions of sun, agave, and pinatas. All imagery cleverly reflects Santa Barbara’s heritage and culture, providing a visual narrative that is truly a love letter to the community. Jones, an Ojai-based artist, shares that the mural “explores and embraces the nuances and poetics of such imagery. Like stringing words together to compose a love letter, I weave and layer potent objects in such a way to express affection for the Central California Coast, and this place that I call home.”

This project was always intended to be a love letter to Santa Barbara. By activating public spaces, art plays a vital role in deepening the engagement with our local community. As MCASB Curator, Alexandra Terry, shares, “By initiating a dialogue about the human experience, public art has the opportunity to enhance our physical environments and inspire critical thinking. Paseo Nuevo is at the heart of downtown Santa Barbara and thus provides the ideal backdrop for a project such as Love Letters that will encourage passersby to contemplate more deeply the environment they inhabit.”

Paseo Nuevo’s owners, Pacific Retail Capital Partners, have a dedicated mission to advancing accessible, public art programming throughout its portfolio. In doing so, they prioritize installations in creative and open spaces, and commission works like Love Letters. Love Letters is one of many art initiatives planned during Paseo Nuevo’s current, privately funded, $20 million redevelopment project, to be completed Summer 2020.

Paseo Nuevo has planned ways for the community to engage with Love Letters, while maintaining safe social distancing, through a Love Letter to Santa Barbara contest, installation videos, and interactive experiences, all driven through social media. Senior Marketing Director, Mary Lynn Harms-Romo expands on this engagement, “Now, more than ever, we want our community to feel connected. As part of the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, Paseo Nuevo has always been a natural place to gather. While we cannot currently gather in the ways we are used to, we can still form connections and share experiences.”

Visit Paseo Nuevo’s Instagram and Facebook platforms to find out how to experience Love Letters.