Bean Bar by Leah Pantea

I'm pretty into my neighborhood in San Diego, and I was so stoked when Sandra + Jason at Bean Bar took me on for creating a mural in their coffee house next to the library. So far, its my largest installation to date, and I couldn't be more excited to share it with you. 

I was pretty stoked to be able to finish the work with an old friend from my undergrad, super talented guy Daniel Donovan.


I spent a lot of time considering how to make this mural feel like an extension of my abstract oil paintings. This meant I created the work unplanned, allowing each mark to build on the last. I wanted the hallway I worked in to surround someone unexpectedly in a new world, and for it to feel spacious and airy but with unexpected details for those who are willing to take the time. I even embellished the wall with gold, similar to what I do in my paintings. 

A huge thank you to Bean Bar for letting me work freely and trusting my process in your space. Swing through and see the space in person! 

Another huge thank you to great talent and dear friend Irene Tena for documenting this process. 

Iceland + Community: Part IV by Leah Pantea

July 26:

Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t nee a lot of money to be happy- in fact, just the opposite.
— Jean Vanier
Photo: Andrea Kennedy

Photo: Andrea Kennedy

In the bustle of our lives, it is hard to connect with people. Most of us already have deep and established bonds in place, which, unfortunately, cause us to connect less with new people. We just don't need them! With these established ties into our longstanding friends, it is not that we are opposed to make new connections, it is just that we are less inclined. Why bother when we are already fueled socially? It is so much work to meet and make valuable connections from scratch!

As I have said before (here, aloud, in my head, filling any quiet moment I'm sure...), I want be open. Openness for me is the foundation in which I want to develop all things on. It breeds vulnerability, honesty, humility, connection and humor.  When I arrived at NES, I had carefully propped my fragile little heart's doors open, calling to any and all. And the most amazing thing happened. Partly in response to the new location I'm sure, but mostly due to my openness, my heart strings tangled with other's who were seeking the same type of open connection.  It was simple, smooth and even efficient bonding with people who were open for making friendships. 

Maybe it's silly to talk about friendship, but I'm going to anyway! Particularly artist friendships. I have found in these artist friendships (and this artist community! I share a workspace with thirteen other artists!) a dynamic that is deeply nourishing and inspiring. I am encouraged and supported in chasing down trails of curiosity where as, at home, I would likely have talked myself out of it, feeling as if I were "wasting time." After a month of external positivity, I am beginning to preach to myself the same things that I have been hearing. "It doesn't matter if I don't finish," "I love that I'm exploring something new," "It doesn't matter if it doesn't tie into my paintings," "conversation and exploration are pieces of a productive creative day." 

Within a community we can find the external support to pursue ourselves introspectively. 

Is anyone in San Diego or LA reading this? I want this community at home! I want to feel nourished for my uniqueness as a creator within an open, thoughtful, and talented community! I want to be open, not competitive, and allow ideas to flow in and out ourselves, trusting in each others individual purpose and how we are suppose to tangle ourselves together.