Arts Report: Beer, Art and SD. Happy Together Since the '30s - Voice of San Diego


Arts Report: Beer, Art and SD. Happy Together Since the '30s

Digging beneath the surface in art and history, and more in our weekly arts roundup.


First, a note from Voice of San Diego:

Yesterday, we rolled out our new Raise Your Voice membership program because we need people who appreciate our work to help support it.

We’re building a new community of members with similar interests and passions, like the arts. We hope you will check out the different benefit levels and choose the one that appeals to you.

We’re especially excited about our new Voice of San Diego Monthly glossy magazine featuring our top stories and most captivating photos each month. We’ll have a sneak peek for you in the coming weeks.

There are other surprises in store, including a new website design and lots of new events and opportunities to convene. Please visit our new members page to find out all the details.

Bringing Brewery’s Art Out of Storage

The prospect of an art-infused beer tasting room would be all the rage now, as San Diego’s craft-brew credentials glow brighter by the day.

But we report in a two-part story this week that the combination of beer, art and ambience here stretches all the way back to the 1930s, in the years after Prohibition.

A brewery in Barrio Logan had a tasting room filled with colorful murals, windows, paintings, chairs, tables, and even intricately carved ceiling beams. The brewery closed down in the ’50s and the tasting room was boarded up for years, until the property’s new owners in the ’80s decided to tear down the whole thing.

An artist discovered the work inside and lobbied to save it. You can read and listen to more about the brewery’s history and the effort to preserve the art in the first part of our story, reported together with KPBS.

Every last piece of art went into storage for more than 20 years. The city and the developers of a new commercial project in Barrio Logan now plan to restore and reinstall much of the artwork in a restaurant there. Read more about those plans in the second part of our story.

Make sure to look for the radio companions to both parts, included in the left column of each story.

Here’s a rendering of the new restaurant in Mercado del Barrio with the rathskeller artwork installed, by Safdie Rabines Architects, courtesy of the Mercado’s developer, Shea Properties:


A partner in the new Vista-based incarnation of a company called “Aztec Brewery” wrote to say the murals’ colorful history “captivated our imagination.” Reader Jimmy Franco writes that putting the artwork in a restaurant doesn’t seem “totally out of character with the art because of the fact that it was originally in a dining area to begin with.”

What do you think about the artwork? What about the plans to reinstall it? Leave us a note with your take.

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

Happening Here

• This Saturday is the annual Chicano Park Day celebration in Barrio Logan. John Eger recounts the park’s history as a feat of community muscle and heart in his Huffington Post blog and links to our January coverage of the park’s new color and revitalization.

• Citing a decline in city employee salaries and morale, the city library system’s highly respected visual arts curator, Mark-Elliott Lugo, announced he’s retiring from his post organizing and curating art exhibitions in the library. (CityBeat, U-T San Diego)

• The USS Midway Museum announced it has $600,000 in hand of the nearly $1 million it’ll take to create a permanent bronze version of the “kiss” statue on the waterfront. (KPBS)

• It’s not uncommon for theaters to hire the best talents in the city, but for a long time, Lamb’s Player’s Theatre didn’t venture outside its core group of actors; it was the only theater in the county that paid actors a full-time salary and benefits to be in a year-round troupe.

Writes the U-T San Diego’s James Hebert:

This month, in the face of persistent financial troubles, Lamb’s disbanded most of its resident acting ensemble, a longtime signature of the company and a keystone of its community-minded approach. It was the latest and most painful attempt to address what producing artistic director Robert Smyth says is now a $900,000 debt.

• “It’s hard to think of another writer whose vocabulary was so imbued with the gloomy, gruesome and grotesque” as Edgar Allen Poe, writes the latest contributor to our commentary series highlighting the literary giant’s contributions. April is a Poe-centered month for San Diego; perhaps you saw this giant puppet version on the streets of La Jolla last night as passersby read aloud from his works. Check out this schedule of the remaining events this month.

• The sixth and final mural in La Jolla’s outdoor collection is going up this week. Ohio-based artist Ann Hamilton’s 48-by-48 foot mural will go up on the west side of a bank building on Herschel Ave. In our first Meeting of the Minds event last year, Ben Strauss-Malcolm schooled us on the murals and what they’re doing for the community of La Jolla, whose walls were previously not so colorful.

What’s Up, Weekend

What’d you do? I was out of town but saw lots of reports on social media about the good stuff happening, not to mention Coachella.

• The annual “Art Alive” explosion showcased floral designers’ interpretations of the San Diego Museum of Art’s masterpieces. (Balboa Park blog)

• An exhibition opened at Art Produce Gallery of graphic design and artwork about local food — ideas for “turning streets, vacant lots and empty rooftops in North Park into gardens and greenhouses where locally grown food can be produced.” Our recent Meeting of the Minds speaker, Lynn Susholtz, owns Art Produce Gallery. (Uptown News)

• Our friends at Sezio teamed up with the LWP Group developers to put on a giant art collaboration in a newly renovated building at Ninth Avenue and Broadway downtown. (CityBeat)

Hundreds of people formed lines to get in that stretched around the block. Were you among them?

Trivia: The same Quayle brothers who initially designed that building a century ago were the designers of the Aztec Brewing Co. Any local history buffs know other historic places the Quayle brothers had their hands in building?

Revealing Secrets

• What looks like a plain, beige resin window hanging in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego actually resulted from artist Ron Cooper “pouring more than 60 alternating layers of clear red, blue, and yellow paint, each one measuring one-sixth of an inch thick.” The thought-provoking tidbit comes in the latest post in the museum’s recently created Tumblr highlighting works from its collection.

• I’ve noticed for a few weeks the new downtown Central Library’s under-construction dome is really starting to change the skyline. The dome shape alludes to other San Diego dome icons, like the one at the Museum of Man and the Balboa Theatre. “What the dome does is distinguish this very civic building from the commercial buildings and housing highrises around it,” project architect Rob Quigley told U-T San Diego. “So in a sense, it’s a traditional architectural gesture, but it’s also very contemporary.”

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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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