Doheny Dreamscapes: Dana Point Artist to Display Mural at Prado West

Doheny State Beach was one of the first beaches that artist Ashley Keene can remember visiting as a young child growing up in Dana Point.

Capturing warm, early memories of the local beach, Keene’s mural, depicting a vibrant rainbow over crashing waves at Doheny, will be on display at the Prado West development as a part of its rotating public art series.

Through her painting, Keene explained that she sought to communicate “this feeling that I’ve had growing up, this feeling, like, ‘Oh, let’s just drive by and check the waves.’ ”

Keene’s paintings often use a vibrant color palette, she noted, with this surreal, psychedelic mural filled with vibrant blue, pink, yellow and purple hues.

“The space was nice because we had natural lighting, and it was quiet for the most part, and it was nice to get to know Jeff and having another artist in there who I got along with and just talking about art and stuff,” Keene said.

Lukasik added that while they were both working on their separate pieces, it was nice to “have someone else working on something, too, at the same time.”

“It helps keep you motivated and helps keep you moving, because you guys are kind of both doing it together, and it just feels a little more like you’re kind of working on something as a team,” Lukasik said. “You’re not always doing that in what we’re doing; we’re usually working by ourselves, so it is nice to work together with somebody.” 

Doheny State Beach played an important role in Lukasik’s childhood as well, he said.


“That’s always what I’m going for, is just the colors that remind you of being there,” Keene said. “Every time I go to the beach and it’s a beautiful sunset, I take a picture, and it never does it justice. So, I think in my art, maybe I’m subconsciously trying to overcompensate with color for that reason.”

Keene noted that originally, she had wanted her mural to be a nod to “the surfers of Dana Point in the 1960s who were really pioneers of their day around here,” Keene said. “And then, I don’t know, Doheny just ended up calling to me.”

“While I don’t surf, that was the beach I grew up going to, and I always go with my friends and check the waves, and I love that there’s older surfers there, younger surfers there; anyone can go surfing there no matter the experience level.”

Keene’s mural will be displayed along Prado West’s corridors, dubbed the “Halls of Public Expression,” along with San Clemente artist Jeff Lukasik’s mural of the same beach.

The theme for this rotation paid tribute to Dana Point surf culture and the town’s history, Raintree Partners Marketing Manager Hannah Bailey explained.

“We thought a broad theme such as this would attract artists from all walks of life who have had surf culture positively impact their life,” Bailey said in an email.

Bryan Snyder, a Carlsbad artist who leads the coordination with artists for Raintree Partners’ rotating mural project, explained that they had received nearly 100 entries upon opening the public call for artists.

“It was extremely difficult choosing the four finalists, as well as the two artists who eventually received the contract,” Snyder said in an email. “Ashley Keene from Dana Point and Jeff Lukasik from San Clemente both stood out as local artists who have developed their own unique style of surf-themed art and felt like a perfect fit for the project.”

Both murals are a take on Doheny State Beach from different angles. Keene’s mural features a VW bus in the foreground, while Lukasik’s depicts a VW bus in the background.

“I just thought it was so cool that it ended up being our two pieces of art that were chosen,” Keene said.

Keene and Lukasik worked on their murals together in a free commercial space in Prado West that’s mostly used for storage.


One of Lukasik’s first memories is from when he learned how to surf at 4 or 5 years old at Doheny State Beach.

“I think a lot of people share that same experience … everyone goes to Doheny to learn,” Lukasik said. “I was scared to go anywhere else but Doheny, because it’s all sheltered, and it’s got that cool setup; something about it seemed really safe and comforting.”

Capturing that formative memory of learning to surf, Lukasik’s mural of a sunset surf scene at Doheny State Beach will be on display at the Prado West development as a part of its rotating public art series.

“I tried to recreate my first memories that really stuck with me that I still remember vividly,” Lukasik said. “That’s just the stuff that sticks with you, and surfing is a huge gift to have in life, and it all kind of starts at Doheny, and I think a lot of people have that same feeling about the place.”

When revisiting Doheny for inspiration for the mural, Lukasik commented that the beach looked so much smaller than he had remembered.

In painting Doheny, Lukasik aimed to capture the scene through the eyes of a young child, with the beach looking larger than life.

“I was so young, and everything seemed huge, and I definitely wanted to recreate that in the painting to make the place seem larger from the eyes of a young kid seeing it, because it was so surreal when you’re 5 years old learning how to surf for the first time,” Lukasik said.

Lukasik added that his approach to painting is always trying to put the viewer into the scene.

“For this one, it’s in the water at Doheny, and I wanted to highlight all the elements that are in it,” Lukasik said. “Some of it’s embellished a little bit, like stuff looks brighter than it is, stuff glistens more than it is. But I always want it to look real but also look surreal, too.”

“I never want to just copy a photo; I always want it to have my own vibe,” Lukasik continued. “I want it to have some realistic structure to it but … have some weirdness to it and put my own stuff in there.”

After working on the mural nearly every day for a few weeks, Lukasik said he can’t wait to see it on display at Prado West. The murals are expected to be installed on Friday, Oct. 6.

“I’m just grateful to have the opportunity, and I’m glad, anytime there’s an opportunity to do public work,” Lukasik said.

Lukasik noted that he’s had more opportunities to paint murals in South Orange County lately, but he would like to see more public art around town.

“There’s a lot of buildings around both cities that a little paint is a really easy way to pretty-up the area,” Lukasik said. “I’m not talking about taking over old Ole Hanson adobe buildings–just, there’s alleys, and there’s a lot of blank white walls that you could pretty easily get someone to pretty-up. There’s an opportunity there.”

Keene’s first big projects were a painted utility box in San Clemente and a baby elephant statue for the Elephant Parade in Dana Point. In 2021, Keene designed another utility box for the City of Dana Point.

Keene noted that she’s been trying to create more public art, because “I do think it’s important for our community to be able to see local artists and just art in general and to be able to have something throughout the community to brighten it up.”

Article courtesy of the Dana Point Times - written by Breeana Greenberg


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