An abandoned ice factory with mushrooms growing on the ceiling doesn’t exactly scream out “art studio.”

But a young local artist is making the best of it, and he has some help through his partnership with another artist, the well-known Robert Irwin, who’s about five decades older.

The stories of these two men — one famous and one not yet — reveal the ways that different types of artists make it in San Diego.

In Other News:

• The county pension agency has been defending itself lately against complaints about its attempt to eliminate salary limits for its investment staff and plans to pay them well more than the county’s highest-paid workers, like the sheriff and district attorney.

In a statement on its website, the agency says a proposal to expand its staff would pay them an average salary of $173,000. Is that true? We fact-checked the numbers and discovered that the claim is misleading. It makes no mention of bonuses that each employee could make, bumping compensation much higher.

Meanwhile, the agency defended itself again in a letter to the editor.

• Hear ye, hear ye! The People’s Reporter is in, and he’s been busy taking assignments from readers like you.

Join thousands of San Diegans who get the day’s news in their inboxes every morning. Get the Morning Report now.

First up: why does the median of Highway 163 through Balboa Park look so terrible? President John Kennedy is said to have called this stretch of road “the most beautiful highway I’ve ever seen,” but nowadays the median appears to be full of weeds. We called Caltrans and learned why a pretty patch of lawn has gone to that great meadow in the sky.

We also answered a question about why some local radio stations are airing announcements about Mexican elections. It’s because several local English-language stations broadcast from transmitters across the border and must follow Mexican law. This is why you’ll hear the Mexican national anthem on the stations at night and hear station call letters announced in Spanish.

• Cash-strapped San Diego schools expect to spend a lot more on utility expenses, in part because electric digital whiteboards are appearing in classrooms (they’re replacing dry-erase boards, which previously replaced chalkboards) and inland schools are getting air conditioning.

• Our new Behind the Scene arts blog is up and running, featuring an introduction from its editor and details about how we plan to go beyond the reviews and previews that make up so much of arts coverage these days.

Also, we’re looking for a little help from you: “Your eyes, ears and senses will be the best guide to this vast world. As this conversation unfolds, we’ll be finding the best and the brightest, the novice revelers and the weathered directors, and getting them involved in contributing to the blog.”

• We’ve been part of California for exactly 160 years, but fate might have put us in another state entirely. As a history flashback story reveals, the Mormons of the 1840s created a wannabe state called Deseret that encompassed our fair city, then a tiny town with a crucial port.

The Mormons were serious, and even created a Deseret constitution and general assembly. That’s not all: Another group had their own designs on San Diego, and we nearly became the midpoint of California, not the southwestern tip.


• Chelsea’s Law, the sex-offender legislation named after the slain Chelsea King, is now law. The governor says he’ll sign other laws backed by the father of slain Amber Dubois. (NCT)

• San Diego is set to begin fluoridating its water — finally — this fall, but the U-T says there’s no funding to keep doing it for more than a couple years.

• Finally, the La Jolla Light has a story about an artist who drew portraits of local elementary students in 1976 and still has several that never got picked up. He’d like to reunite the portraits with the former students.

Check the portraits and see if you recognize anyone. No. 5 is not Justin Bieber, although he may be able to sue the teen heartthrob for stealing his hairdo.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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