ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) - The sidewalks in a neighborhood near Leucadia have turned into an art gallery, with dozens of decorated hearts lining the streets.
Artists Rodney Rodrigo McCoubrey and Tim Bennett started the project as a way to help neighbors feel more connected while they stay isolated during the Coronavirus pandemic.
"I was hearing a few stories that kids were having a hard time," says McCoubrey. "I thought, geez man, that must be rough."
McCoubrey typically works with recycled art, taking trash and driftwood from the beaches nearby and turning them into art. He and Bennett took an old pile of driftwood and cut hearts out of it. They then gave a heart to each home on the street, with a note asking people to decorate it.
What his neighbors came up with has been inspiring and humbling.
"Some of them are very simple, just a heart on a heart. But it's the essence. It's the vibe," McCoubrey says. "I think it's about the continuity of bringing people together. It's tricky. This is as weird a time as any of us could have ever foreseen or even thunk up. You know, we're in this together. It's nothing that we could have planned."
The artists took old metal and used it to mount the hearts and hammer them into people's lawns.
Neighbors say decorating the heart became a fun family activity. Now that they're on display, they feel like the street is more lively.
"It's drawn people to their windows and made it okay to stop and linger in front of each other's houses," says neighbor Kim Jarvinen. "When we look, we see each other, and we're able to wave, and it's a good way to know that you're okay."
McCoubrey says it all goes back to his art, which takes negatives and turns them into positives.
"When this cloud lifts and the wind blows again, we'll be able to return to things like the ocean and just doing simple things again," he says. "We're gonna know that this time was pretty sacred in an awkward way."