Published in the San Diego Reader magazine on July 4, 2017.
By Mike Madriaga
“[Do] you guys know the Reader?” Sand One asked. The crowd then cheered. One girl from her entourage said, “That’s the one I was telling you about.”
On July 1, Sand One, an East Los Angeles-based graffiti artist, busted out her spraypaint and hit up the sidewall (by the alleyway) of the North Park Dental clinic. The mural was of one of her signature dolls with big eyes and eyelashes holding up a tooth.
“[There were] about a hundred people, it was just crazy,” said Edwin Lohr, “I couldn’t even walk through.”
Lohr, 59, is also known as the Mid-City Ambassador. He recently linked some businesses in Cherokee Point (which are a couple of blocks away from the Sand One mural) with other graffiti artists.
“Who are you? You didn’t get permission from me,” Lohr jokingly asked.
Sand One took his business card, climbed her ladder, and continued spray-painting.
“I like to set my ground — but you have to learn how to become like that you know,” Sand One said, “and that’s why they are all here because they think like me.”
Jasmine, 27, was watching the get-up go down with her 12-year-old pitbull, Moses. “I follow her on Instagram and Snapchat. She’s so motivational and she’s such a hustler like that.”
Sand One has about 153,000 followers on Instagram and about the same amount on her Snapchat account.
She is said to be one of the it-girls when it comes to art, not only because she’s a “badass muralist with a unique doll style,” but she’s got an attitude that one “can love or hate.”
The morning of July 1 she posted a photo of the North Park Dental sign on her Instagram and captioned it “see you here North Park Players [at] 3426 University Ave. San Diego.”
Some girls rolled in from Otay and another group from Oceanside, but most were from the surrounding mid-city neighborhoods.
“We’re from City Heights, so we are just like five minutes away,” Jasmine said, “I see her doing this stuff in L.A. (via social media) all the time.”
Sand One has been painting for about eight years. She is said to be one of the it-girls when it comes to art, not only because she’s a “badass muralist with a unique doll style,” but she’s got an attitude that one “can love or hate.” In the (Laverne Place) alley at about 4:30 p.m., there was nothing but “mad love.” It was like a gospel ceremony spoken from atop a ladder. And as the 15-or-so-foot wall was completed, the crowd of mostly women acknowledged Sand One’s uplifting words. “Get up, get a job, and stop being so emotional,” she yelled. “I’m like very motivational when it comes to my art and I talk a lot of shit to all these women. I represent women and paint for women … and kids [too].”
Denise Aguilar, 30, posted up with her toddler. “I like that she’s a Mexican woman who is very strong-willed, does everything independently and she comes from the streets,” Aguilar explained. “It’s all about the realness and the rawness that she brings.”
Lohr from City Heights is the founder of the “Mural a Month” program. “Wow, this is great, I didn’t ask her and she’s already got a mural up,” he said. “July is out of the way and now I’m working on August.”
“[Do] you guys know the Reader?” Sand One asked. The crowd then cheered. One girl from her entourage said “that’s the one I was telling you about.”
Every month, Lohr has a muralist paint a City Heights business. He wants to uplift the look and feel of his neighborhood and protect the buildings from future tagging. “So far none of the murals that we have got up here have not been tagged, except for one; this is a good element.”
Lohr added that after a business gets painted like the dental office, the business can seek reimbursement for the material and labor paid via the City of San Diego Storefront Improvement Project. “You (the business) have to pay first and put in the receipts, and I think it’s up to $2500 or something. Then there’s the City Heights Community Development Corporation — they give storefront improvement money too.”
Sand One broke her side mirror in a minor accident on June 30. After she got it fixed in North Park she spotted the dentist’s office wall. “It’s about 6 p.m. and I’m just gonna ask if I can paint their wall, but they’re closed. I’m banging on their door and they open up.”
She showed the dentist’s office staff her portfolio and ‘viola,’ they granted Sand One the wall to paint the next day from 12:00-5:00 p.m.
“That’s what I tell all of my followers,” she added, “whatever’s happening, you do not break and you do not give up.”