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Whew. As it turns out, producing long-form audio stories is a lot of work.
But it’s finally here, the first episode of San Diego Culturecast, our new arts and culture podcast.
For the entire first season, I plan on focusing on Barrio Logan, a neighborhood in the midst of a big transition.
Gentrification often works like this: A neglected neighborhood crumbles, artists see potential in its gritty abandoned warehouses and cheap rent. They move in, making things seem pretty cool. Then developers start taking notice. As new condos and other businesses spring up, neighborhood residents and artists are pushed out.
It’s an age-old cycle packed with excitement, creativity, drama, racism, displacement and more. I’m plopping myself in the middle of it all, my microphone in-hand, and I plan on learning more about Barrio Logan and the change happening there.
The stories – involving different people and groups in and around Barrio Logan – are unfolding in real time. I want the podcast to take various turns as I go, without too much advance planning. That means I need you to reach out and tell me about what I’m missing or who I should be talking to next.
Episode 1 is all about Milo Lorenzana and Teresa Montero, or “Bucky” as she’s known, two of the dozens of people who’ve been driving the neighborhood’s arts renaissance. Their most recent project is the redevelopment of an old building on Logan Avenue, where they’ve opened a coffee shop and are leasing out the rest of the space to a record store, an art school, a vintage shop and other small, locally owned businesses.
Milo and Bucky are wary of all the outside developers setting up shop in Barrio Logan. But it’s a little awkward because they, too, have stepped into the developer role. They say they want to be the change they want to see happen throughout the rest of their neighborhood.
Barrio Logan activist Brent Beltran likes what Milo and Bucky are doing, but he’s not down with a lot of the other development projects happening in his neighborhood.
“I’m not harping on these amazing grassroots individuals, people from this community, people who have created this,” he said. “What I’m harping on are the land pirates that have swooped into this neighborhood, buying up properties left and right, raising rent, pushing out people and making it very difficult for current residents and so, as a resident, I’m very concerned.”
Beltran draws a line between insiders and outsiders, but as Milo and Bucky explain, that line isn’t always so clear.
You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.
According to a historical report on downtown’s California Theatre, Tijuana’s Agua Caliente Racetrack painted two advertisements on the theater as part of a big marketing campaign in the 1950s and 1960s to lure more San Diegans to its horse and dog races.
The ads remained on the theater for decades, but were first threatened in 2011 when the owners of the building wanted to paint them over them with beer advertisements.
Petitions and community outcry caused the owners, Sloan Capital Partners LLC, to temporarily abandon the plan and leave the murals in place (there are actually three murals on the building, but folks are mostly concerned about the biggest one that pictures horse racing). The issue has come up again, now that the owners are making moves to demolish the shuttered, deteriorating building. A new petition to save the horse-racing mural has garnered over 500 signatures so far, according to the Union-Tribune.
While the California Theatre building itself is a historical landmark, which puts up significant roadblocks to the potential demolition process, the murals aren’t included in that designation. If they are found to be historically valuable, the murals would either have to be heavily documented or even saved in plaster form if the building is eventually torn down.
On Thursday, the city’s Historical Resources Board will consider the significance of the artwork, but the report found the signs ineligible for designation, in part because they are part of an advertising campaign and don’t “exemplify or reflect special elements of the city’s or downtown’s historical, archaeological, cultural, social, economic, political, aesthetic, engineering, landscaping or architectural development.”
Folks who’ve signed the petition disagree, calling the artwork a landmark that reminds San Diegans of a time when the city was more closely connected to Tijuana.
A city planner told me in an email that city staff reviewed the report, conducted a site visit and “ultimately concurred with the conclusion of the consultant’s analysis, as detailed in the staff report.” The Historical Resources Board will take the staff’s recommendation into consideration on Thursday and either agree or ask for further analysis.
• The San Diego Symphony announced its 2016-2017 season last week. (Times of San Diego)
The season will be the last with music director Jahja Ling at the helm, and highlights include a few big farewell concerts, plus a festival of American music in January. (San Diego Story)
• CityBeat has details on Bread & Salt’s next phase of construction. The gritty cultural center in Logan Heights will soon break ground on a new building that will house 30 live/work apartments geared toward artists, plus commercial units and a performance space.
Last year, I wrote about the next phase of construction and the updated community plan that helped clear the way for it.
• KPBS picked up my story last week about efforts to build the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center inside a city-owned building at 1960 National Ave. in Barrio Logan.
• Thanks to a reader for sending me this one: A boy and his vacuum. I’m not sure what it is, exactly. It could be a conceptual art project, but whatever it is I like the Instagram photos of this guy and his vacuum at various locations around town.
• The city broke ground on the new Bayside Fire Station downtown. As part of the city’s percent for art program, the Arts and Culture Commission and Civic San Diego commissioned the artists Ingram Ober, Marisól Rendón-Ober and Chuck Moffit to create a site-specific artwork for the fire station’s plaza.
• Last year, California legislators passed a bill that gave the California Arts Council the power to designate areas as state cultural districts. The council is now looking for folks who can help them define and then implement the new program.
• San Diego photographer John Mireles took some stunning street portraits of people who attended Chicano Park Day over the weekend.
Mireles is the same photographer I covered whose fence in Logan Heights features large-scale portraits of his neighbors.
• You’ve heard of co-working spaces. But have you heard of mobile co-working spaces?
• The San Diego Zoo turned 100 years old today and it just announced a big, free centennial celebration happening in Balboa Park on May 14.
• The Artist Odyssey, a San Diego-based company that produced arts documentaries, is releasing a new film about Tribal Baroque, the musical duo that often performs for tips at Balboa Park.
• San Diego artist Andrea Chung used a recent residency to teach herself how to make paper, which she then turned into sculptures and other works of art that explores the roles of midwives in Jamaica.
• There goes North Park. Some say the closing of a record store in a neighborhood is one of the most definite signs of full-fledged gentrification. (NBC San Diego)
• Check out this trippy art. (CityBeat)
• Reentry Resources for Change is a new nonprofit that provides resources for people who’ve been incarcerated to transition back into their communities. At its kickoff fundraiser event this week, the group is showcasing art made by prisoners and doing other things to introduce the issue to San Diegans.
• The Coast News Group visits nonprofit arts group A Ship in the Woods’s new digs in Escondido.
• There’s a new art gallery in Coronado. (Coronado News)
• Artist Jeremy Sicile-Kira, who has autism, recently had a solo show at Space 4 Art in the East Village. His story made it onto NBC News Monday.
• The artist I told you about who’s embedding herself in the lesser-known places in Balboa Park is diving into the park’s history as a gay cruising destination.
• Vanguard Culture looks at this week’s San Diego Museum of Art “Art Alive” fundraiser that has local florists interpret paintings as flower arrangements.
• Beer people are abuzz over the new ChuckAlek Biergarten behind North Park’s Art Produce gallery. (Reader)
• DiscoverSD is stoked about the collaborative spirit wafting in the culinary air here.
• Burning Beard Brewing is open in El Cajon, serving beers with names like “Normcore pils.” (CityBeat)
• Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle now has a dock and dine boat dock. But according to the restaurant’s owner, getting the thing open wasn’t easy. (Facebook)
• The former Mixture art warehouse on Kettner Boulevard in Little Italy is now Herb & Wood. San Diego Magazine’s Troy Johnson has the first look.
• San Diego City Council said yes to two stories of steak in Little Italy. (Eater San Diego)
• Helm’s Brewing Company has plans to open a satellite tasting room in Ocean Beach. (The Full Pint)
• Phil’s BBQ opened a new location in Rancho Bernardo. (NBC San Diego)