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Culture Report: Building a Mile of Art in Southeastern San Diego

The New Children’s Museum is celebrating its 35th anniversary, we're experimenting with a cannabis podcast and more in this week’s roundup of the region’s arts and culture news.

Artists Michael Rosenblatt (left) and JoeNathan Segura in front of a mural in Lincoln Park painted by Segura for the #MileofArt public art project. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

A once drab intersection in Lincoln Park is now full of color.

Four murals scattered near the intersection of 50th Street and Imperial Avenue mark the start of a new public art project meant to spruce up the neighborhood.

The murals color an auto repair shop, a car wash and a fence surrounding a women’s recovery center. The biggest mural serves as the backdrop for an outdoor community gathering and event space on which the nonprofit Urban Collaborative Project broke ground in 2016.

Artist Michael Rosenblatt, who volunteers for the nonproft, said he wants to color more businesses in southeastern San Diego with art. After seeing the mural at the gathering space make a positive impact, he decided to launch what he’s dubbed #MileofArt, a public project meant to beautify a bigger swath of the area.

“This could be a big part of the neighborhood’s renaissance,” Rosenblatt said. “My dream and passion is to create art where art is needed rather than just putting it in fancy galleries.”

The effort relies on partnerships with local businesses. To accommodate small business owners who either don’t own their buildings or don’t want to commit to a permanent mural, Rosenblatt is offering “mini murals” — paintings on wood panels that are treated with sun and graffiti guards and professionally installed on the outside of businesses by a volunteer at the neighborhood Home Depot.

Rosenblatt said the mini murals are quicker and much cheaper than a large-scale mural. He said he’s actively looking for funding for the project and is busy recruiting businesses in southeastern San Diego that want art on their buildings.

“It’s about turning things around,” he said. “This is just one way of doing that, but it’s a big way. It gets the young people inspired.”

You’re reading the Culture ReportVoice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.

The Opera’s New Season, A Celebration at the New Children’s Museum and More Arts and Culture News

• The San Diego Opera’s just-announced 2018-2019 season includes some of the changes expected from a nonprofit that’s been transforming itself ever since its near-death experience in 2014, but also lots of classics. The San Diego Opera’s current production of Puccini’s “Turandot,” by the way, is wowing audiences and critics. (Union-Tribune, KPBS)

San Diego Opera hansel and gretel

San Diego Opera will stage Engelbert Humperdinck’s version of the Grimm fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel,” in December. / Courtesy of Timothy Matheson, Vancouver Opera

• Voz Alta, a pioneering arts and culture organization in San Diego that’s currently closed, used to host some of the most exciting poetry nights in town. Get a taste of what it was like at a Voz Alta poetry night during this reunion event hosted by Adrian Arancibia, one of the longest standing members of the famed Taco Shop Poets collective. (Vanguard Culture)

• Find out what a “site-specific adventure play” is at Circle Circle dot dot’s annual production of roving theatrical works.

• Experimental art abounds at UC San Diego’s annual “Visual Arts Graduate Symposium and Open Studios” event. On Saturday, Ph.D. and MFA students invite San Diegans to the campus to see their work. 

• This year, the New Children’s Museum is celebrating its 35th anniversary and its 10th year in its downtown digs. Throughout the year, the museum is inviting back some of the memorable contemporary artists who’ve worked with NCM over the past 10 years. The latest is Brian Dick, a multimedia artist best known for his whimsical work.

• The lineup for San Diego Symphony’s Bayside Summer Nights concert series this year could draw record-setting audiences. (Union-Tribune)

Magicians, dancers and other street performers from across the country will be at Seaport Village this weekend for the annual Busker Festival.

• San Diego Film Week kicks off March 1.

• On Saturday, San Diego author Amy Wallen will talk with CityBeat book columnist Jim Ruland about her new memoir, “When We Were Ghouls: A Memoir of Ghost Stories.”

Artist Francis Upritchard is in residence at the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas. Her multimedia work relies on unexpected materials and explores topics such as what humans thought dinosaurs looked like when the first bones were discovered. (Union-Tribune)

• I’m enjoying following the Barrio Network’s Art Carts placemaking project as it travels to various locations in Southeastern San Diego.

• Check out the pieces that local muralists Cesar Castañeda, Mario Torero, Victor Ochoa and others painted during a recent event at the San Diego Museum of Art.

• “The Homeless Chorus Speaks” is a new documentary about a choir made up of San Diegans who’ve experiences homelessness. The film will air on KPBS at 8:30 p.m. (CityBeat)

• What is music’s role in the social justice movement? UC San Diego aims to find out during a new festival this week.

• Meet the creative duo behind many of the murals you see in Hillcrest, Mission Hills and other uptown neighborhoods. (Uptown News)

• Vista residents can vote on the mural they want to see on the wall of a Mexican market.

• In April, the Museum of Man in Balboa Park will open an exhibition exploring secrets. KUSI explains.

• Liberty Station’s monthly art walk is happening Friday.

• The city has begun its search for a new executive director of the Commission for Arts and Culture. That job is one of four vacant positions at the commission right now.  To be operating at full capacity, the city needs to hire two public art program administrators and an executive secretary.

• A new gallery is open in La Jolla. (Union-Tribune)

• Stir the Pot Productions is a new local theatrical company that’s staging a play in City Heights this week.

• An exhibition in North Park will showcase 50 local contemporary artists worth watching.

Food, Cannabis, Beer and Booze News

My colleague Jesse Marx and I are experimenting with a new a podcast aimed at cannabis culture and politics. Give it a listen and let us know what you think. We also profiled a young woman whose felony marijuana conviction was reduced because of Proposition 64, and Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern, a Republican, explains why his city deserves a pot ordinance rather than an industry-funded ballot measure.

• The iconic Windmill Building in Carlsbad will become a food hall

Windmill Food Hall

A rendering of The Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad. / Courtesy of Southwest Strategies

The beloved Red Fox Room Steakhouse and Piano Bar could be in trouble. (CityBeat)

• Six local restaurants made it onto Yelp’s top 100 list. (Union-Tribune)

• Coffee Hub & Café is turning 1.

• La Mesa is getting closer to opening its first licensed medical marijuana dispensary. (Union-Tribune)

• The plant-based Impossible Burger might not be a perfect copy of its meaty inspiration, but it’s pretty darn good. (San Diego magazine)

• Coronado Brewing Company announced a new collection of beers featuring custom artwork by local artists.

• As a big fan of sour beers, I’m stoked that Stone has finally decided to join the trend. (Union-Tribune)

• A daylong festival celebrating brunch is coming to San Diego on Sunday. It’s aptly called BrunchCon.

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at with arts and culture news and tips. Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link. Subscribe to the San Diego Culturecast podcast

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