Does anyone know the history behind the lips painted on the rock going out of Lemon Grove at Lemon Grove Avenue and High street? I'm 34 years old and always remember the lips being there. Obviously someone has bee repainting the "lipstick" (different colors) all this time. At one point, probably during the 80s, they were painted black. I have always wondered....
-- Jennifer, the net
Lemon Grove sure does love its quirky landmarks. Plaster lemons, geological lips, just two things that bring a little zing to the town, now that the actual lemon groves are gone. The lips inspiration is actually pretty well documented. It was originally an artist's joke that's been maintained by anonymous freelancers ever since. If you haven't seen them, the mouth is actually just a clever natural formation of rock faces that, if you have an artist's imagination, come together to form a set of not-too-sexy-plumpish lips in a large boulder. In 1977, artist, L.G. resident, and cheeky 17-year-old Steven Garcia decided that the lips he saw in the rocky formation needed some paint to help his friends see what he saw in the natural formation. So that year Lemon Grove got a big red permanent kiss from above route 94. Over the years embellishments have been added, but those were mostly stolen. The lips had accompanying painted-on eyes for a while, but nobody seemed to care about maintaining them. Garcia left the area at least 20 years ago, and ever since it's been random lighthearted Lemon Grovians who've kept the lips juicy and bright on a volunteer basis. Maybe the biggest secret about the lips is that they're actually, politically and geographically, in La Mesa. But you have to be in Lemon Grove to see them.