As soon as you pull up to the Edna Valley Design Ranch, you’re greeted by a colorful, patterned mural covering the garage. It looks like something you might see in India or the Middle East. Start looking a little closer around the property and you’ll discover art, sculpture, and custom design everywhere. The brainchild of Alaina McBride, a financial strategist and project manager, the Design Ranch is her dream property: 5 acres in rural wine country located in the Edna Valley.
During a recent tour of the property to watch Los Angeles-based, internationally recognized muralist Shrine, aka Brent Allen Spears, create the aforementioned hand-painted design, McBride explained her plans for the licensed vacation rental property.
“I created this shadow box in the back to make being here more of an experience, to have a safe place for kids to play and use their imaginations,” McBride said, showing off the shadow box’s colorful rainbow lights. “I asked Shrine to come and paint the murals because he’s a super unique artist whose work is so playful.”
The property came up for sale when the former owners realized the new Avila Ranch development with its 700 homes would abut their property, but McBride saw the new development as an opportunity.
“As the ranch begins producing food, we can be their fruit and vegetable stand,” she said with a smile.
McBride is also actively seeking artists for more projects at the ranch.
“I have a call for artists for two outstanding projects,” she explained. “I have backlit SLO letters, and we’re seeking an artist whose work would be printed on vinyl and applied to the letters. We’re also looking for large sculptures or interactive/experiential art that can be added to the property.”
Like the new sign at Pismo Beach, these are large-scale letters, which she found in Reno.
“They were dismantling a Wells Fargo sign, and I asked them what they were going to do with the letters, so instead of just throwing them away, I grabbed them,” she laughed.
She hopes the place will be a unique interactive experience for those who rent the vacation spot, and moreover that guests will appreciate the one-of-a-kind design by Shrine, who said he got his “start drawing at both my grandmothers’ kitchen tables.”
“I would draw the kinds of things kids draw, and my grandmothers would tell me what a good artist I am,” he recalled. “I was always told I was an artist, and so I just became one.”
He also noted that his mother was a “cop” and his dad a “smuggler,” and that push and pull in different directions surely had an effect on him.
Over the years, he’s spent time in Lebanon, India, Morocco, and various parts of Africa. He also grew up in Los Angeles and went to Mexico regularly, experiencing the folk art there. All of those influences combined into his aesthetic, which is on display on his Instagram account @shrineon.
What makes his art and process unique is that he comes to each project with no preconceived notions. It’s strictly an intuitive affair. He’ll look at the space and ask himself, “How does it feel?”
“This was already painted blue,” Shrine said, pointing to the garage doors. “I saw these two lines and decides to work from there.”
There’s both an inherent balance and symmetry to his work as well as an energy.
“I never try to make something that looks like something else,” he said, “and I don’t plan something out or draw a design and try to copy it. If I’m copying, the work is drudgery! The whole process, the drudgery of trying to blow up something you’ve already drawn. No.”
Have you ever been to a place that feels, well, magical? Maybe you can’t put your finger on it, but there’s something special about the place, something peaceful, that makes you feel connected to the environment. That’s how the Edna Valley Design Ranch feels. As soon as you arrive, you can’t help but feel relaxed, even if you’re only there for an hour. It just feels like a big playground for kids of all ages.
“Anything that goes against the cult of sameness, I’m for it,” Shrine added, putting his brush aside for a minute, stepping back, and taking in his work. Δ
Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at email@example.com.