Arts Report: A Cheeseburger and Museums - Voice of San Diego


Arts Report: A Cheeseburger and Museums

An ‘impasse’ at a local arts group, familiar faces for a buzzed-about new musical and more in our weekly arts roundup.


In the 1980s, San Diego city park staff wanted to bring in a McDonald’s to Balboa Park to cover costs for a tram service. Then-City Councilman Bob Filner lampooned it.

“Noting the Old Globe Theatre’s plans for an expansion, Filner worried about the production of ‘Burger King Lear,'” the Los Angeles Times wrote in 1989. “‘The Casa del Prado. Think of it: Casa del Taco,’ he added.”

That balancing act of retaining the park’s public character while trying to find new revenues is the latest chapter in our multi-part look at big land use changes and controversies from the history of Balboa Park, the city’s cultural heart. It’s our effort to explain how Balboa Park got to be the way it is, at a time the city is planning to make major changes to the park’s western entrance.

You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.

Happening Here

• Salary and working terms discussions at local classical music organization Orchestra Nova have “reached an impasse,” says a statement from the orchestra’s CEO Beverly Lambert. Lambert says the orchestra will go ahead with this year’s season, apparently with or without the support of the local chapter of the professional musicians’ union, American Federation of Musicians. It’s unclear from the statement how the orchestra would fill its ranks without hiring musicians from the union.

The conversation about compensation, union rules and trying to recruit new audiences is happening around the country. Reporter Kathy Lohr looked at the lockout at the Atlanta Symphony in a story on NPR Morning Edition on Tuesday:

“Atlanta is not the only American orchestra facing problems,” Lohr reported. “The Cleveland Orchestra’s musicians are working without a contract, and the Indianapolis Symphony has canceled concerts after contract talks broke down. Some here fear the same fate.”

San Diego’s largest classical music organization, the San Diego Symphony, is on much better financial footing than it was in the 1980s and 1990s. It exited bankruptcy and has worked its way up to a top-tier orchestra. I wrote about its finances last year.

• A group of young theater artists finds inspiration for their plays from interviews they do in the community. The troupe, Circle Circle dot dot, is planning its next project about underground graffiti artists. (U-T San Diego)

The theater company’s founder, Katherine Harroff, told us earlier this year about what happens when she meets the muses for her work:

Even if we hardly know them, the response is, “You want to write a play about me? My story’s interesting?” We’re just there to say yes it is, and other people will be interested too, and we should share what you’re doing.

• Responding in part to a local poet’s less-than-gushing essay about life in San Diego (“a city with silence at its center”), Susan Myrland announced she’ll do a series of interviews in her blog with San Diego art veterans about “previous experiments in community-building — what succeeded, what didn’t, and why.” (U-T)

• New York-based pop artist Ryan McGinness will discuss his work with Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego director Hugh Davies on Thursday night at the Luce Loft in East Village, in advance of a new collection of his work opening at Quint Contemporary Art this Saturday. (Sezio)

• Ramona native Nicolette Burton’s thespian hopes are featured in a new PBS show, “Broadway or Bust,” which began airing on Sunday. (KPBS)

• Local actors Manny Fernandes and Melissa Fernandes — married for 10 years — will play opposite each other onstage at New Village Arts in “Same Time, Next Year,” a play centering on a long-running extramarital affair. (North County Times)

• Connected to the new musical “Allegiance” onstage at The Old Globe, theatergoers can see photographs and artifacts from the Japanese American internment during World War II in a free exhibition at the Museum of Man. (U-T)

• Balboa Park’s having a contest for photographs taken in the park. Entries are due Oct. 24.

• And local writing organization So Say We All is calling for your photographs of East County, submitted by Oct. 7.

• A new musical opening in November at the La Jolla Playhouse features the music of The Flaming Lips and will feature several familiar faces and forces, including actor Paul Nolan, who played the lead in last winter’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Longtime Playhouse chief Des McAnuff conceived the musical, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” with The Flaming Lips. U-T theater critic Jim Hebert calls the piece “one of the most buzzed-about musicals to open in the U.S. this year.”

Niches and Neighborhoods

• The first episode of a new “Inside the Design Studio” podcast from the San Diego Architectural Foundation features two local architects who like making projects on “leftover, weird sites,” like their mixed-use development that houses the Counterpoint bar and restaurant in Golden Hill.

• The first person to win a Pulitzer Prize for dance criticism got his journalism start as a music and drama critic at the San Diego Union in 1960. Alan M. Kriegsman died Aug. 31. (Washington Post)

• Creator of comic books, television series, movies and more, J. Michael Straczynski has roots in San Diego and Chula Vista. Dave Maass followed his following at Comic-Con this year and traced some of those local roots.

“At 57, Straczynski is a figure for whom the nerd classes are already polishing a boulder on the Mount Rushmore of science-fiction history,” Maass writes, for CityBeat.

• Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, whose departing leader Seema Sueko recently announced a 16-month mentorship she’d be accepting in Washington, D.C., announced who’ll pick up her sizable responsibilities in the meantime. Jessica Bird, who’s been casting director at San Diego Repertory Theatre, will pick up the mantle until Sueko returns. (U-T)

• Local self-taught painter Dan Adams is known for painting dogs, often on miniature canvases. Nina Garin visited Adams’ studio in his Clairemont home for the U-T, finding that he’s been working on a series of more abstract paintings inspired by rubber ducks and other toys.

When we visited him a couple of years ago, we learned he’d started painting dogs a bit by accident — he wanted something to enter in a contest that restricted canvases to 1-foot size.

Happening Nearby

• Los Angeles Times critics compiled their picks for the region’s best arts happenings coming up this fall. Take a quick look in this graphic or check out individual recommendations for dance, theater, architecture, art, classical music and jazz.

• An upcoming innovation confab in Tijuana promises to feature ideas from “health care and technology to philanthropy and filmmaking in Mexico,” with culinary arts in the center. (Union-Tribune)

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Kelly Bennett is the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach her directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

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