Pride month

Artists, allies add splash of color to Hillcrest ahead of Pride

Artists from both sides of the border gave the neighborhood a fresh and colorful makeover

NBC Universal, Inc.

You might notice a few changes the next time you're in Hillcrest.

More than three dozen utility boxes along University Avenue got a makeover for a beautification project ahead of next month's annual pride parade, spruced up in part by Betty Bangs, a local Chicana artist who volunteered for the project funded by the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA).

Bangs brought together artists from both sides of the border — as well as different art groups — to help showcase their art.

The local artists have painted dozens of utility boxes all along University Avenue, with more set to be painted in the coming weeks. The project is set to wrap up by the end of June, ahead of the Pride parade on July 20.

"It is a big deal to be able to find the community — people that live here that are artists — and bring them together, because that's the whole point, is bringing this group of people together," Bangs said.

Desarte, one of the groups that was invited to join, is mainly based in Tijuana but regularly takes part in art projects and shows in both Tijuana and San Diego. Brown told NBC 7 that getting involved in this project is her way of showing she's an ally who wanted to come out and support the community.

Bangs, who is on the board of the Chicano Park Steering Committee, is also an accomplished artist involved with Art of Pride, a local program that gives LGBTQIA+ artists a space to freely express themselves.

"I'm proud of who I am, very much a proud Chicana queer artist," Bangs said.

Bangs has painted multiple murals and has been involved in art installations all over San Diego, including ion Chicano Park, but being able to paint showcase her art in Hillcrest, a neighborhood with deep roots and history among the LBGBTQIA+ community, is a different experience for her.

"To be able to be out here and be yourself, and represent who you are and where you come from — your culture and your lifestyle — and if you can bring some sunshine to this not-so-great world, why not?" Bangs said.

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