Photo by Sam Hodgson
A proposal by a group of civic and business leaders to transform the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park would cut off driving access to the area and make it more pedestrian friendly. It currently serves largely as a parking lot and thoroughfare.
Things are heating up in Balboa Park, home to a cluster of the city’s veteran arts and culture institutions. The plan to remove cars from the park’s Plaza de Panama is weeks away from its final city vote, two years after the mayor and philanthropist Irwin Jacobs launched it.
That plan diverts traffic coming into the park from the west over a bypass bridge that opponents especially dislike. They’ve begun to tout a new alternative plan by retired architect Bill Lewis that directs traffic along peripheral roads instead of the bypass bridge. Lewis’ plan also inserts about 800 parking spots under the Plaza de Panama. But the opponents don’t have any money for their idea, so they hope Jacobs will compromise and fund their alternative. He says he won’t.
The plan heads to City Council for final approval July 9. Read our breakdown of the latest and add your take to what readers are saying. And if you’re just catching up on the issue, read our primer on the plan.
You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.
Holding it Together
• When the music teacher at Scripps Ranch High School sees a broken tuba, he’s got a solution: “I fix instruments with duct tape,” he said. My colleague Will Carless spent a few days last week reporting on the impacts of the school district’s layoffs, and focused one of his dispatches on Russell Shedd’s resourceful approach to music teaching. Though the district struck a deal today that will rescind those layoffs, the story shows one way San Diego’s teachers keep their classrooms equipped: By raising the money themselves.
• The 30-foot-tall painting of Charles Lindbergh painted in 1997 is coming down today from the side of the airport’s Commuter Terminal. (KPBS) The U-T San Diego’s Matt Hall snapped a photograph of the removal this morning. The shape kept the wall behind sheltered from sun so it looks like the aviator’s dark blue shadow will remain.
• The La Jolla Playhouse has sent 23 plays to Broadway. Now it’s sending another: “Hands on a Hardbody,” which just closed. Much from a play — plot, songs, actors — can change when it begins one place and migrates to another, but the Playhouse’s managing director, Mike Rosenberg, said the original cast will go with the play to New York City. But it’s not yet clear what else might change from the play before audiences see it there. (KPBS)
• Do Ho Suh, the artist who made the tilted “Fallen Star” cottage perched atop a UC San Diego building, has been making artwork about home and displacement since he moved to the United States in 1991. The Los Angeles Times’ Leah Ollman outlines where this blue house fits in the context of his career. “This home too feels like a place of refuge, passed down through the generations — except for the fact that it rests at a stomach-flipping tilt and hangs over a daunting drop,” she writes.
• The family behind the concession stand at Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista is leaving after almost 25 years. Sam and Nina Feliccia have been serving up Italian food at the concession ever since their daughter was performing onstage in school plays. (North County Times)
It’s a year for change at the amphitheatre, which operates with a mix of city and private funding. The amphitheater’s longtime chief, Kathy Brombacher, will leave after this summer’s season, too. You can see the amphitheater and more from Brombacher on her tenure there in our TV story from November.
Brookes quit his science job to be a fulltime artist several years ago. We saw one of his vibrant pieces when we visited Ben Strauss-Malcolm’s home art collection.
• Local multimedia artist Margaret Noble spent several childhood years navigating the neighborhood grid of City Heights, scrounging up coins for candy and playing video games. Now Noble’s working on a large installation that will open at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in August, and the installation draws on what she remembers from City Heights in the ’80s. (U-T)
• Curtains up! The U-T’s Jim Hebert tallies all of the theaters opening productions: It’s a big week, with “openings at La Jolla Playhouse, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Co., Lamb’s Players, Diversionary and the Old Globe, plus the touring ‘Wicked’ at the Civic.”
• Jay Whitaker, an actor who’s been a favorite of critics and playgoers in the last two summer festivals at The Old Globe, is back. Whitaker played Mozart in last summer’s “Amadeus” and three roles in 2010. Festival director Adrian Noble said he picked Shakespeare’s “Richard III” specifically for him. From the North County Times:
“I decided to do the play because of Jay,” said Noble, festival artistic director since 2010. “He’s a really extraordinary actor who has matured into Shakespeare’s work astonishingly.”
• Harvey White, a co-founder of Qualcomm, believes the arts are vital, not fringe. He tells the U-T’s Diane Bell:
“What concerns me is people don’t understand that the marriage of arts and humanities with engineering is an economic issue. It’s not just a nicety. We’re going to win in the economic world by our innovation. Yet the United States has gone from being rated No. 1 to No. 8 in innovation. … But no politicians are going to say, “I want to put money into the arts,” unless you give them a cover, an economic rationale.”
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