Christine Jones is the Commission for Arts and Culture’s new public art program manager. I met her at the recently opened Fault Line Park last week, where she introduced me to the city’s newest public art installation: the two big mirrored balls in the middle of the park that actually serve as more than just a cool backdrop for a selfie. Jones answered most of my questions with questions of her own.
“Some of the questions I’m asking myself right now when I think about the future is how do we reach a broader, wider public in San Diego?” she asked. “What kind of role can we play in San Diego neighborhoods…? How do we expand the notion of what public art is?”
Jones, who’s been at her post since April, has an impressive resume that includes working as a consultant on big city projects like the public art installation at the new Central Library. Six months in, she said she wasn’t ready to roll out any big plans or new programs, but she did say she was open to ideas.
Arts experts I talked to said that’s good, because now seems like the time to move the city’s public art collection beyond vanilla and closer to the edgy and exciting realm of something more like honey jalapeño pickle.
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Giving Cultural Districts Due Cred
If AB 189 becomes law, cultural districts could apply to get recognition similar to that of historical districts. The bill tasks the California Arts Council with administering the program, which invites artsy hotbeds as organized and manufactured as NTC at Liberty Station or grassroots and organic as Barrio Logan to apply for the official state designation.
“Basically, when you see a state cultural district, you’re going to know there are galleries, museums, cultural community events and more,” said Meredith McNamee, a legislative assistant to one of the bill’s authors, Assemblymember Richard Bloom. “It’s a way for communities to recognize where their cultural districts are. The state will give them this designation that gives them a sense of legitimacy and then the community itself can build on that. The designation could be used to recognize more polished areas, but the goal of the program is to recognize the unpolished areas — the places that don’t already have this worked out.”