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Arts and culture highlights by Engagement Editor Kinsee Morlan (Tuesdays)
Art is popping up in public places — and in places that are technically public but where no one actually goes. Plus: The case for a permitting system for street performers, the most memorable border art pieces and more in our weekly roundup of arts and culture news.
Art has popped up at a busy intersection in Talmadge.
A large-scale print by Carolina Montejo is displayed like a billboard in a garden in front of a house at 4496 Euclid Ave. Two outdoor screens will also soon be colored with projections by artist Lana Z Caplan every day after sundown. Both works explore notions of human expansion beyond the boundaries of Earth.
The new project is called Intersection, and it was unveiled this weekend by Andrew Ütt, who said he plans to mount new outdoor public art exhibitions featuring San Diego artists alongside Latin American artists every six months.
The house is a private residence and office, but Ütt said the outdoor garden and a sizable parking lot will be used for upcoming public openings and workshops. He wants to make Intersection a nonprofit, and he said he has plans to grow the project beyond Talmadge.
Ütt, who’s finishing up his master’s degree in museum studies at Harvard University after running a fine art photography gallery in Colombia for years, said there’s a big focus on Mexican art in San Diego, but not enough cultural institutions that focus on Latin American art from other countries. He said he wants to pair Brazilian, Colombian and other Latin American artists with local creators and help build binational relationships.
“In everything I do, I try to find connections on a global scale,” he said. “I want to bring the global to the local and take the local to the global – that’s my ideology.”
Ütt’s makeshift exhibition space is one of a growing number of art projects using public spaces in San Diego as a canvas.
Launched last year, Bijou is a project by artist Priscilla Salser. Salser made a small architectural model of an art gallery, which she gives to artists and tells them to do whatever they want with. While one artist did make tiny sculptures that actually fit inside the tiny model, others just use it as a jumping off point to experiment and create new work.
One of the main goals of the project, according to its website, is “to temporarily inhabit nooks around the city where gatherings would not otherwise occur.” Over the weekend, for instance, Bijou took attendees to a parking lot at a golf course in Golden Hill where artists Wendell Kling and Joe Yorty showed some art.
“I find all these little magical spots that people haven’t been to or don’t know are there and have these gatherings or shows,” Salser said. “I try to do them about every three months.”
Artist Joe Yorty is behind another mobile art project called Best Practice. He and Allie Mundt have turned a large bulletin board into a portable exhibition space. Right now, it’s housed inside the department of art, architecture and art history building at the University of San Diego. The project also uses a video monitor that’s on display iat Helmuth Projects gallery in Bankers Hill. They use the screen to show video works to passersby.
Best Practices is currently featuring artist Allison Wiese, who is using the billboard at USD to advertise her upcoming series of site-specific readings in public spaces throughout San Diego. Wiese’ first reading will take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at Nunu’s Cocktail Lounge.
Yorty said he thinks there’s been a surge in DIY public and nomadic art projects like his in recent years, in part, because of the rising cost of real estate in San Diego. He said it’s driven local artists to seek out free space to show art.
“We don’t have a lot of physical experimental project spaces for art, because you have to find $1,500 to $1,800 a month to pay rent here,” he said. “So this is the way to do that without paying rent.”
Over the weekend, artists Margarita Garcia Asperas and Marco Ramirez Erre set up a table and a large mirror against the border fence in Playas de Tijuana. Chef Francisco Gutierrez cooked dinner for a group of deported migrants, artists, architects and academics.
Those who came were also told to bring a hammer. After they ate, they were asked to help shatter the mirror, which made it look as if the border fence disappeared and the table extended into the U.S.
Called “Re/flecting the Border,” the performance piece joins a long tradition of protest art inspired by the international fence.
One of the results of President Donald Trump’s focus on the border and curbing illegal immigration during his campaign and presidency has been an uptick in protest art at the border.
Border art has a long, interesting history, so I rounded up 20 pieces of the memorable protest art.
• I only mentioned two border art projected commissioned by inSite in my roundup, but thanks to UC San Diego’s library for building this archive of all the inSite projects.
• Speaking of border art and UCSD, check out this exhibition opening at the school’s University Art Gallery on Friday.
He wrote his piece in response to the podcast I did on local street performers who think the permitting system in Balboa Park is unfair, and that the city needs to clarify its policies.
By the way, Seaport Village’s annual Busker Festival is happening this weekend.
The city of San Diego has selected artists for its two pricey public art pieces that will be built on water treatment facilities that aren’t easily accessed by the public.
The city’s public art policy requires 2 percent of city project costs to pay for public art. I’ve written about the practical results of that policy: Pricey public art pieces sometimes end up in water facilities that aren’t accessible to the public.
The city’s Commission for Arts and Culture says project funding anchors the art to these secure facilities, but a closer look revealed that the city might be overly cautious in its approach and that locating the art in nearby locations where the public might actually get to enjoy it could be OK.
Earlier this month, Councilman David Alvarez asked the city attorney’s office to offer some clarification on the issue. Alvarez sent a formal request asking City Attorney Mara Elliot to weigh in on whether there was anything restricting the city from putting the art in more publicly accessible places.
The opinion is expected in late March or early April, so stay tuned.
• The Commission for Arts and Culture is looking for artists to create work for downtown’s Children’s Park and the Cañon Street Pocket Park project.
• Here’s a look at some of the San Diego International Airport’s upcoming public art pieces and programs.
• The San Diego Regional Arts & Culture Coalition wants folks to thank the seven of nine City Council members who included arts and culture in their budget priority memos to the mayor.
• Ever been to a mobile, site-specific musical theater show? Check this one out. (U-T)
• SDSU professor, artist and curator Kim Stringfellow won a $49,000 fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation.
• See all kinds of big dino bones at the San Diego Natural History Museum’s new “Ultimate Dinosaurs” exhibition. (U-T)
• Look how cool Tijuana is. (Afar)
• Look how creative Tijuana is. (Los Angeles Times)
• The art world is largely white and male. The San Diego Art Institute wants to talk about that.
• Warning: This art installation at Horton Plaza may cause tiny hallucinations that will intrigue and fascinate you. (CityBeat)
• This guy wants to build a new iconic architectural landmark in San Diego. (CityBeat)
• KPBS’s Tom Fudge scoped out the local jazz scene.
• This is how the few remaining bookstores in San Diego are surviving. (KPBS / U-T)
• There’s a big art exhibition opening at a church this week.
• Steve Poltz moved to Nashville? Sad! (U-T)
• A big electronic music festival will close down Waterfront Park this weekend.
• San Diego Magazine’s Troy Johnson is super salty about this restaurant trend.
• The city made a video about how it helped Modern Times expand.
• Eater’s Candice Woo is not happy about Roscoe’s House of Chicken’s announcement that it’s putting its San Diego expansion plans on hold.
• CityBeat’s annual Burger Week promotion is under way.
• A bike-centric cafe is celebrating its grand opening.
• Don’t let all the news of layoffs and downsizing in San Diego’s craft beer world fool you, the Reader says the local craft beer boom is still booming.
• This new(ish) San Diego web show says talking about your personal diet restrictions in public is annoying.
Kinsee Morlan is the engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at email@example.com. Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link.