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Problems continue at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, wire sculptures in City Heights must come down and more in our weekly digest of the region’s arts and culture news.
The closure comes just weeks after the city shut down The Glashaus due to code violations and safety concerns. Alternative arts venues across the country are being scrutinized by fire and city officials after the deadly Ghost Ship fire in Oakland last year took the lives of 36 people.
At the Union Barrio Logan, though, the property owners pre-emptively shut the space down before the unpermitted construction inside the building made it onto city officials’ radars.
Seth Collins, who held the master lease on the Union Barrio Logan building at 2191 Main St., said in an email that the art studios built inside the space years ago were not permitted. He said the cost of permitting was too steep at the time, since the business was just starting out.
At the beginning of the year, Collins said the property owner, Mitchell Investments, which also owns The Glashaus warehouse building and paid hefty fines when it was closed down, told him that city code enforcement officers would likely be inspecting the space soon. Collins said he quickly hired an architect and worked for months to get the permits and ensure the construction was up to fire and safety standards.
The process, though, took longer than expected, and Collins said Mitchell Investments wasn’t willing to wait.
“We were served a 30-day notice to bring the space into compliance,” Collins wrote.
Collins finally threw in the towel and toldtenants they had to be out by the end of the month. The artists were given less than 30 days’ notice, and now many are struggling to find a place to go. The artists who lost studio space inside The Glashaus told me they, too, are having a difficult time finding affordable studio space in the city.
Mitchell investments did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Sarah Anderson, a woodworker with LODA Designs and a cofounder of San Diego Made pop-up arts and crafts markets, has rented a studio space inside Union Barrio Logan since 2013. She said she doesn’t know where she’s going, but that the San Diego Made team is working on securing a new building where other artists can rent space.
“We’re really working to make sure everything we do is fully permitted,” she said. “Hopefully, that will be more of a permanent solution.”
Lynette Rosen, another artist who’s had her studio at Union Barrio Logan for years, said in an email that the region’s elected leaders should help. She said the county and city money that funds local arts nonprofits should also be used to support individual artists.
“City, county, state and national grants and funds for the arts are not accessible to the individual artists,” Rosen wrote. “[There is a] lack of support for artists in San Diego.”
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In 2016, the board of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum hired Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres as its new executive director.
Then in June, with no public explanation, the board fired Beres. Since then, three board members have resigned and the museum’s registrar quit.
Voice of San Diego also obtained nine letters and emails from former donors, supporters and members who suspended funding and/or expressed disappointment in the board’s decision to fire Beres.
Last week, two of the museum’s remaining four employees quit.
The museum did not respond to a request for comment.
Kathleen Dang, the museum’s former education and events coordinator, said in an email that she resigned following the leadership changes.
“The work environment following this leadership change did not resolve any issues such as vulnerability and uncertainty,” she wrote.
After a few weeks operating without an executive director, the museum’s board hired Brandon Horrocks as interim executive director. Neither his LinkedIn profile nor the resume provided to the board indicates any experience running a museum, or education in Chinese history.
• An article in The Reader that has since been removed from the website mistakenly blamed the city attorney’s office for demanding San Diego artist Spenser Little remove his wire sculptures that were installed in the neighborhood last year.
The public art project was a result of a collaboration between the nonprofit neighborhood groups City Heights Community Development Corporation, LISC and the City Heights Business Association, plus a consortium of community organizations called the Fairmount Corridor Arts Collaborative.
Apparently, those folks never got permission from the city to install the public art. Now Little has to take them down by the end of October. It was the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture and other departments that required the artwork to be removed, not the city attorney’s office.
A spokesman from the city said that “because the artworks by Spenser Little were installed on city property without prior permission, several city departments worked with the City Heights Business Association to find a reasonable solution. The result was the authorization for the temporary exhibition of the sculptures for a year, ending Oct. 27, 2017.”
Enrique Gandarilla, executive director of the City Heights Business Association, said in an email that his organization will look for a new location to reinstall the sculptures.
• For years, the annual Art San Diego contemporary art fair has popped up in Balboa Park. This year, organizers have moved it to the Wyland Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The event, which is happening Sept. 28-Oct. 1, includes local artist showcases, artist talks and more. (Pacific Magazine)
• The annual Trolley Dances event is one of the most innovative dance showcases in town. Trolley Dances founder Jean Isaacs and other choreographers have created site-specific dance pieces at locations along the trolley line, including Paradise Creek Park in National City the San Diego Central Public Library.
• The city of El Cajon is one step closer to signing a deal with Live Nation to reopen the long-shuttered East County Performing Arts Center.
• The Adams Avenue Street Fair is happening Saturday and Sunday.
• For three years running, local architecture, design and planning organizations have banded together to bring San Diegans Archtoberfest. The month-long celebration of architecture and design kicks off with an event Thursday.
• San Diegans Jennifer Powell and Seth Marko are taking ownership of the West Grove Collective store in South Park and reopening it as The Book Catapult.
• VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt will be moderating a discussion about plans for Balboa Park on Thursday.
• Ever seen art on meat cleavers? Now’s your chance.
• The Union-Tribune breaks down “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA” and explains what six of San Diego’s major artistic institutions are doing to participate in the initiative.
• Kota Ezawa is the latest artist whose work is featured in the Murals of La Jolla public art program. (La Jolla Light)
• CityBeat says graffiti removal is an artform itself and is dedicating a two-part photo series to exploring it.
• San Diego State University was gifted a large and significant collection of science fiction books, and now the school’s library is ready to show off the room where the collected is housed.
• Kids under 12 get free admission to many local museums during the month of October.
• A Union-Tribune writer calls San Diego Musical Theater and California Ballet’s production of “Billy Elliot” a “tear-jerker of a show has both intimacy and heart.”
• The La Jolla Historical Society is staging an exhibition featuring the works of local costume designer Judith Dolan, who’s done work for some big-time on- and off-Broadway shows. (La Jolla Light)
• The Westgate Hotel has teamed up with the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego to host a fancy dinner benefiting Mexico earthquake relief efforts.
• A new 8,900-square-foot marketplace has opened in Little Italy. (Eater)
• The tacos at La Vecindad in Hillcrest made this writer want to do cartwheels. (San Diego Uptown News)
• Slow food activists are gathering at a fair in Balboa Park Sunday.
• San Diego Restaurant Week is under way. (CBS 8)
• San Diego Magazine says “healthy fast food is the future.”
• You can find Oktoberfest-inspired dishes at Liberty Public Market. Have I ever mentioned my deep, deep love for anything and everything pumpkin spiced? Yeah, I’m one of those people.