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By Miriam Raftery

August 16, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – “What have we been up to the last few months? Oh, just a pretty incredible art  project - adding a massive mural to the side of our building, as well as our very own art gallery inside,” Karina Kravalis, co-owner of Giardino Neighborhood Cucina posted on Facebook this week. “Gallery chalk art pieces include classics with a COVID twist to keep things as upbeat as possible.”

The artworks include spoofs of famous portraits, such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa wearing a mask and goggles, as well as French impressionist Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait updated with a surgical mask dangling off his ear. 

The art was created by the restaurant's multi-talented bartender, Justin Rutland of J.Ink. Designs. 

Rutland says, “Thanks to my buddy Santi for making this video happen and thanks to my favorite boss lady for allowing me to paint her restaurant!”

The restaurant also recently added outdoor seating for social distancing, and offers curbside takeout service of its authentic Italian cuisine as well.

You can view a time-lapse video of the external mural creation at

Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.

East County Magazine gratefully acknowledges the Facebook Journalism Project for its COVID-19 Relief Fund grant to support our local news reporting including impacts on vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more: #FacebookJournalismProject and

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