The Crowd: Campaign is on for new tile mural to depict Balboa Island icons, history

A series of iconic and historic images of Balboa Island will grace a massive tile mural by artist Barbara Abbott.
(Courtesy of Barbara Abbott )

A community art project was launched four years ago on Balboa island to create a massive iridescent tile mural under the direction of a grassroots committee of Balboa Island residents. Local artist Barbara Abbott was selected to design this mural.

Now in the final phase of transforming her design, showcasing a series of individual panels depicting iconic and historic images of Balboa Island landmarks, a fundraising campaign has been launched to secure tax-deductible support of $150,000.

“The creative process has been a great joy,” Abbot said. “I am sincerely proud to be able to share this urban art form with our own Newport family community, along with so many people who visit Balboa Island year-round. Most exciting and gratifying is that the mural will hopefully bring a smile to faces for generations to come.”

More than decoration, this mural is a legacy gift. The half-inch squared recycled vitreous glass mosaic tiles fabricated by Charleston, Mass.-based Artaic Innovative Mosaics, will be installed by Palace Stoneworks, a highly experienced installation team that has placed similar art on the walls of the UCLA Botany Building (a mural designed by the late renown Los Angeles based architect and artist Paul Williams), and recently, an installation in Huntington Beach on a massive five-story wall at the Paséa Hotel on Pacific Coast Highway. The Paséa mural is a remarkable visual of a turning wave, about to crash on shore.


The Park Avenue Mural Project committee was formed by Lee and Sue Pearl, who invited Island residents to join. Among the committee members are Miriam Baker, Debra Huse, Georgie Fenton, Terry Janssen, Pierce Stemler, Shirley Pepys, Cynthia Shafer, Michelle Bendetti and Lisa Skelly.

Barbara Abbott stands in front of Newport Harbor.
Local artist Barbara Abbott has designed a massive, 56-feet-by-10-feet tile mural to be installed on the Irvine Ranch Market wall on Park Avenue and Marine on Balboa Island.
(Courtesy of Barbara Abbott )

Abbott was selected as the artist/designer following an outreach for proposals for the assignment. Presented to the Balboa Island Improvement Assn. and adopted by the Balboa Island Museum Board of Directors, led by president John Conners and founder/CEO Shirley Pepys, the large undertaking became a reality given the generous support of Irvine Ranch Market building owner and businessman Manouch Moshayedi.

Fabrication will continue over the next six months, followed by the wall preparation, including lighting and painting. The completed work will not fade and will be graffiti resistant, allowing the tiles to be cleaned.

In our age of technology, QR codes may be installed as well, allowing visitors gazing upon the mural to learn the local Balboa Island history using both audio and visual materials.

The Park Avenue Mural Project will install a tile mural on this wall of the Irvine Ranch Market on Balboa Island.
The Park Avenue Mural Project will install a permanent tile mural on this wall of the Irvine Ranch Market on Balboa Island.
(Courtesy of Barbara Abbott )

With the gift of the blank wall at the local Irvine Ranch Market, the mural project fundraising campaign, led by the Pearls and Fenton, is proceeding with the call for action of gathering funds to cover the costs of fabrication and installation.

“We are seeking as many generous community art lovers as we can and encourage all to share in Barbara Abbott’s celebration of the island’s unique heritage. Every donation matters. We need to complete our campaign by midsummer,” said Lee Pearl, who has championed other civic art projects in the community with his wife. “Art is so important to the soul of the community. We must support and celebrate this legacy project.”

To learn more, contact Lee Pearl at