TR Robertson –Numerous people walk and hundreds of cars drive down Paseo Santa Fe, between E. Vista Way and Civic Center Drive, everyday with no knowledge that an abundance of artwork lines the street and is centered in the three roundabouts along the way. The word paseo means a leisurely walk or stroll, and for the art glass artist Buddy Smith, this is exactly what he had in mind when he was commissioned to install a number of stained-glass panels in the kiosks lining the newly designed Paseo Santa Fe corridor. Each of the kiosks has two areas for the stained-glass panels and two areas for advertisements about various Vista events.
In a phone interview with Buddy, he said he was awarded the commission to do the stained-glass work based on his idea to create a series of important spots in Vista and what you can see when you walk through Vista. The Public Art Process for the City of Vista involves a call to artists when projects are initiated by the city. Proposals are submitted to the city and the one selected for the project goes through a 30-day public notice. At the end of this time the design is submitted to the Public Arts Commission and if approved it goes to the city Council for their approval. For Buddy, 28 of his stained-glass panels were approved for installation. The pieces depict such scenes as the Avo Theatre, Moonlight, Antique cars from car shows, sunflowers, butterflies and many more topics.
Buddy Smith is a Vista resident who does art glass for architectural installations for businesses and for residential dwellings. He specializes in ornamental, stained, etched, beveled and mosaic glass work. Buddy said he began working in art glass in 1974 as a hobby in Boston and turned to working full time in art glass in 1982. He moved to North County on December 18, 1984. The variety of his work can be seen on Facebook at Buddysmithglassart.
Buddy has also contributed to the Veterans Memorial Park artwork that begins on S. Santa Fe Ave. which turns into Paseo Santa Fe. This one acre privately owned park is open to the public. The park was created and funded by the Pinamonti family to honor Ernie (son/brother) who was killed in Vietnam and to honor other soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. The park runs along S. Santa Fe and Paseo Santa Fe with a sidewalk that meanders along the street. There are a series of artistic metal designs along the way as well as large poppies on one wall made by Buddy Smith, called “Remembrance”. Buddy said the poppy’s represent soldiers killed in all wars the U.S. has been involved in. Sitting on the edge of a reflecting pond is a bronze statue constructed by Rip Caswell, an Oregon sculptor. The statue was made in Ernie’s likeness from photos Rip obtained. Along the reflecting pond area are benches for quiet reflection and on several walls and on the ground in front of the reflecting pond are large, engraved tiles engraved with letters sent home by soldiers who served during the Vietnam war. Ernie’s letter is included. Other artists that contributed various art works along the walkway were Vicki Leon designing “Healing” and Jaydon Sterling & Rick Randall designing “Freedom”.
The three art sculptures along Paseo Santa Fe most people notice, but know little about, are the three large sculptures sitting on the platforms in the middle of each of the three roundabouts. The one closest to Downtown Historic Vista is at the intersection of Paseo Santa Fe and Eucalyptus. This sculpture is made out of Brazillian iron wood and was designed and constructed by artist Michael Angelo Venturello, a Vista native. It is called “Prima Vista”. The next large sculpture along Paseo Santa Fe is at the intersection of Paseo and Guajome. This large tree like metal sculpture is called “Aspire” and was constructed by local artists Melissa Ralston and Robert Rochin. Melissa and Robert also have some of their metal work pieces in Vista’s Alta Vista Garden. For more information www.melissa-ralston.com and www.rochin.com . Next along the way is at the intersection of Paseo Santa Fe and Pala Vista. This sculpture is called “Portal” and was designed and constructed by Alex Gall of Gall Artworks. For more information www.gallartworks.com. The sculptures are lite at night which gives the art pieces a completely different look.
Art is abundant all throughout the Downtown Historic Vista area. From the large murals on the buildings to the metal sculptures on street corners to stained glass panels to bronze pieces you cannot go one block without seeing some type of art. The next time you are downtown, slow down, look around and enjoy the amazing art that can be found in Vista. If you have not walked down Paseo Santa Fe since the construction was completed, add this to you list of things to do and take some time to read the incredible letters from soldiers who served this country during the Vietnam War.