The next time you walk or drive down Broadway in downtown San Diego, look up for a moment. A brand-new art installation now lines the poles along the main thoroughfare highlighting the message: “All Black Lives Matter.”
The art installation was created by San Diego-based artist Anthony Tyson and includes banners on display along Broadway in support of racial equity and justice.
The banners are side-by-side on poles that line the street. One banner features a photo of a Black man with the words: “San Diego: All Black Lives Matter.” The other banner reads: “Black Lives Matter. Every age, gender, preference, past, future – matters! Change.”
Other banners feature images of Black women and children.
The new display – which was installed this past Monday – is a project from the Downtown Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to driving the economic and cultural prosperity of the 275 blocks of downtown San Diego.
The banners begin at the Spreckels Theatre at 121 Broadway and can be seen along Broadway between Third Avenue and Kettner Boulevard.
Tyson wrote about his artwork on his Instagram page where he posted a photo of himself smiling underneath the banners, under the lights of downtown San Diego near the US Grant.
“I couldn’t be more emotional,” he wrote. “To be a voice for the movement is an honor and I’m excited for what happens next.”
The Downtown Partnership said Tyson was selected to spearhead the artwork after the organization put out a call to community artists.
In Tyson’s social media post, he admitted he was nervous about submitting his work for the project, but he came out ahead.
“I swear the universe knows when to arrive!” he wrote.
Tyson has always enjoyed graphic design and said his family and friends have encouraged him for years to pursue his talents.
“It took the change and disruption of this year to finally make the leap,” the artist told the Downtown Partnership. “I’m thrilled to have this experiment with a new skill be recognized and to have my work selected for a project that will hopefully generate conversation about the need for racial justice and equality.”
Tyson said in addition to the powerful words that fill the banners, viewers should also explore the subjects of each photograph and the color choices of his work.
“From the Black man looking resolutely forward and the Black woman standing head held high and strong in her power, to the father and his child that will hopefully grow up in a more just world, these images captured the feeling I wanted to portray,” Tyson explained. “I hope people are drawn in by the bright vibrant colors to recognize that each has value because of their differences.”
The Downtown Partnership said it is working to create a greater sense of cultural vibrancy through projects like this in downtown San Diego, projects that “highlight historically disadvantaged institutions and artists.”
Tyson’s banners are the first of these projects.
The art projects are funded by private contributions, the Downtown Partnership said, and more will follow thanks to the many artists who submitted their work during this first go-around.
“We were thrilled to get so many unique submissions when we put this call out to the San Diego community,” said Sean Warner, director of community enhancement at the Downtown Partnership. “It is our intention that Anthony’s work be an important catalyst to expand opportunities to celebrate historically disadvantaged cultural institutions as well as Black, Indigenous and other artists of color through placemaking projects in Downtown.”
The Downtown Partnership said it “believes strongly in its duty to ensure organizational efforts are promoting equality and addressing systemic injustice and racial discrimination wherever they exist.”
More of Tyson’s work can be seen on his website here.