A message from Aida's family "Our beloved Aida reached the crossroads on her life's path on February 3rd, 2009 where she received the final beautiful piece of the puzzle to all her questions. She passed away quietly at home from cancer. Aida was a gifted and passionate advocate for the life-affirming work that is the everyday business of the Citizen Artist. She would like all Ladies and Gentlemen to know, with great urgency, that our creativity, our passions, our collaborations must go forward. Her intention is to join with us in them".
Aida Mancillas worked in San Diego, California on projects ranging from paintings, installations, and artists books, to large scale public art works. She received her undergraduate degree in Visual Arts from Humboldt State University, and an M.F.A. in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego. Ms. Mancillas received numerous awards for her work including a national fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for "works on paper," one of 17 awarded nationally in 1991. Her public art work garnered Orchid Awards from the American Institute of Architects, San Diego, and was honored by the American Planners Association.
Ms. Mancillas exhibited widely and her work was part of two major traveling exhibitions in the 1990's: "La Frontera / The Border: Art About the Mexico/United States Border Experience" (San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art & Centro Cultural de la Raza); and "Ceremony of the Spirit: New Expressions of Latino Spirituality." (The Mexican Museum). In the early 1990's she was a founding member of the seminal women artists group, Las Comadres, and exhibited with that group until its disbanding in the mid 1990s.
Ms. Mancillas began working with large scale public art works in 1992 when she began work on the Vermont Street Pedestrian Bridge project. She went on to contribute numerous works to San Diego County. Her most recent project was an all solar, low-income family housing complex in which she designed areas of the hardscape as well as a community playground for the city of Poway.
Her essays were published in several anthologies including "The Citizen Artist: 20 Years of Art in the Public Arena, With Other Eyes: Gender And Race Politics in Visual Culture, and Information" a magazine published in Vienna, Austria.
She also served as a commissioner with the City of San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture, and was President of the Centro Cultural de la Raza. She co-founded of the public art advocacy group Public Address.
Vermont Street Pedestrian Bridge
The Vermont Street Pedestrian Bridge is a 416 foot span connecting two distinct San Diego neighborhoods over a busy thoroughfare. The art treatment of the bridge includes laser cut, steel panels featuring quotations and icons, and a concrete treatment of sandblasted patterns and the definition of the word "bridge" along its length. The elements of discovery, history, time and place are articulated by using historical texts, icons, pictographs and the metaphors of "bridge" and "walking" in steel on the railing sections along the span. The quotations used range from historical figures such as Pythagoras and Lao Tsu, to writers and thinkers such as Audre Lorde and Eleanor Roosevelt, to important local figures such as Irving Gill and Dr. Suess.
Templates were created to sandblast the concrete surface of the bridge, creating areas of pattern and text in exposed aggregate that effects a transition between the two communities at its endpoints. Starting at the north landing, the concrete treatment draws from the California craftsman period by repeating the large river rock patterns in the pillars. The north landing uses the metaphor of the dry stream bed as a guiding visual principle. The south landing has a hard edged geometric design reflecting the adjacent shopping area. The two patterns gradually transition and merge into one another in the middle. The definition of the word "bridge" runs in both directions along the edges of the span so that pedestrians can read it coming or going.
The Vermont Street Bridge has been awarded recognition by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the state and local chapters of the American Planners Association. It was completed in 1994.
The Vermont Street Bridge connects the communities of Hillcrest and University Heights over Washington Street. You may access it via the Uptown Shopping District at Vermont Street and University Avenue. The entrance to the bridge is located near the rear parking lot of Trader Joe's.
"Water Marks" is a 200 foot long informational entry wall into Mission Trails Regional Park. The colored concrete, undulating wall circles a cul-de-sac and mitigates the visual impact of a new water pump building on the site. "Water Marks" is an entry gateway introducing park visitors to the elements they might find in this chaparral and riparian preserve.
The wall is veneered with mosaic glass tiles, hand made ceramic tile, etched flagstone, and bronze plaques that incorporate images and text about the native plant, animal and human history of the park. Information is presented in English, Spanish, and Iipay aa (the indigenous language of the Kumeyaay people). The elevations of the wall mirror the elevations of the surrounding hills and mountains.
A map of the San Diego River, the lifeline of the Native people and subsequent settlers, is drawn in blue mosaic tile the length of the artwork. The San Diego River is an appropriate symbol for the entrance to Mission Trails Park at Deerfield Road. Not only is the river an important element of the park, but it also makes reference to the water pump station built next to this entry area. The masonry of the original Kumeyaay and Spanish dam serves as the visual metaphor for this project. Restoration of the site accompanied the construction of the work. California oaks and native plants now grow in what was once an ecologically disturbed area of the park.
"Water Marks" was the winner of the "Liquid Art" juried exhibition of public artworks organized by the California Water Authority. It was completed in May 2001.
"Water Marks" is located at the intersection of Deerfield Street and Mission Gorge Road. It is just west of the main entrance to Mission Trails Regional Park.
The Playground of 100 Frogs is the first phase outcome of a major redesign of an 11 acre urban park in the North Park area of San Diego. After working with a design team to create the guiding general development plan for the park, Ms. Mancillas was commissioned to design the first phase of the plan—a unique art playground to replace the existing small and outdated one on the site.
The theme of water and the natural world came out of the sites original use as the city’s reservoir and as a response to the densely urban environment surrounding it. The lack of adequate open space and play areas in this part of the city was a great concern to the community. The elements of the playground call attention to the seasons, to weather, to astronomy, and to cycles of life in the natural world. It invigorates an old park which was seen as unsafe or inadequate for use by families.
The use of 100 frogs in the playground is a device to draw children’s attention to the details in the design; a game that they can play. The frogs come in various forms from the giant water feature which stands at one end of the playground, to tiny metal tiles in the walls of the play area. The resilient surface of the playground has the design of frogs floating on a rippling pool. The off-the-shelf play elements are supplemented by unique modifications to play panels, tile crusted towers, playground walls with unique blockouts, and terrazzo learning cylinders. Design elements are also found in the concrete surrounding the playground.
"The Park of 100 Frogs" is located at the intersection of Polk Avenue and Idaho Street in the community of North Park.