Community members push for Black Arts and Culture District in Encanto

ENCANTO, Calif. (KGTV) — If you drive along Imperial Ave. in Encanto, you’ll see artwork throughout the area in murals on the side of buildings and storefronts.

It’s known in the community as the Black Arts and Culture District.

Now, there’s a push for it to be formally designated by the city of San Diego.

“There’s areas where I’ll do spray painting and brush painting. There’s this play of going back and forth,” Maxx Moses said.

For Moses, art is a way of life.

His style stems from graffiti. Moses said he was drawn to it as a kid in Philly for its raw and rebellious nature.

“I think I was looking to find a little trouble in my life. A little something that would take me outside of that good boy routine,” Moses said.

His studio is in the Black Arts and Culture District in Encanto.

You can also see his artwork throughout the neighborhood in murals and at the 62nd Street trolley station.

“You talk about Black art in the community. Yeah, I want to bring it. I want to have the whole corridor of MTS filled with art,” Moses said.

“As far as the Black culture and the Black diaspora, there’s no place you can go that represents as a common ground,” said Dajahn Blevins, the Arts and Culture Commissioner for District 4.

Blevins said the area came to be what it is today through an annual Encanto Street Fair and Art Festival.

The event was discontinued 13 years ago, but the area remained a place to celebrate art and culture.

“It took on a life of its own. It organically became our Black arts culture district,” Blevins said.

The district spans eight blocks from 61st Street to 68th Street.

It showcases artwork from the late Eddie L. Edwards in the street median to murals by younger artists on utility boxes.

The area also has over 22 black-owned businesses.

“And the majority of those businesses focus on Black arts and culture so that’s why this has become the epicenter,” Blevins said.

It’s why Blevins and others are calling for the city to designate the neighborhood as an arts and culture district.

Blevins said that would require a resolution by city council.

Councilwoman Monica Montgomery-Steppe who represents the area supports the push and has listed funding to enhance the Encanto neighborhood as a priority for the 2023 City Council Budget. She stated a culture and arts designation would help revitalize and energize Imperial Avenue.

“Our culture is rich and deep and powerful and we want it to be celebrated,” Blevins said.

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