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Neptune's Portal.

Neptune's Portal

Field review by the editors.

Encinitas, California

Neptune's Portal is a curious piece of neighborhood public art just yards from the Pacific Ocean. While Neptune Avenue residents are content to use conventional mailboxes for inbound communication, since 2007 the homeowner, artist Jack Lampl, has provided an alternative "community-based interactive art process" for video messages.

Neptune's Portal.

Neptune's Portal manifests atop its concrete base as a trippy object from a cartoon dimension -- a green puff pastry rollup with a hole just large enough to insert a human face. The artist/steward, who has lived in Encinitas since 1986, explains on a sign: "NeptunesPortal is my invitation to all of us to stop, look inside and perhaps find something new, something hidden, something unexpected and then share it honestly and without self censorship."

To record a video message for the community, visitors hold down a button while gazing beyond the pink interior folds and into the Portal's sparkling maw.

Back of Neptune's Portal.
Back of Neptune's Portal.

Every month the accumulated clips are uploaded to, organized by year and month. Each runs under 20 seconds, most only a few seconds long, as visitors describe the Portal interior, babble nonsense, or impart meaningful wisdom to the Other Side. Many deliver a simple friendly greeting in their preferred language. There's a general, positive energy that Neptune's Portal seems to harness.

In the pandemic years of 2020-22, Neptune's Portal was still functional, with virus precautions posted (cover your button finger, don't let your face touch the portal rim). Though it's entirely outdoors, many visitors wore masks in their videos -- because, honestly, who knows how air circulates in a Portal?

Neptune's Portal

678 Neptune Ave., Encinitas, CA
North of downtown. In a residential neighborhood, on the beach side of Neptune Ave., just south of its intersection with Daphne St. Private property, but the Portal is available to all.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
Frog Rock, Vista, CA - 11 mi.

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