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Fitting the season perhaps, there’ve been lots of monsters in my world.

First I caught the La Jolla Playhouse’s compelling production of Notes From Underground, which explored the monstrous things humans are capable of thinking and doing.

Then, a little less jarringly, I stopped in at the Lyceum Theatre last week as San Diego Ballet ran through a dress rehearsal for a production of Firebird, a century-old ballet based on a Russian fairy tale. For a twist, hip-hop dancers in shredded camo garb play monsters alongside ballerinas in fairy costumes.

We caught the unusual juxtaposition on tape with our partners at NBC 7/39 in the second episode of Behind the Scene TV, (airing on Friday afternoons just after 4:30 p.m.).

The third monster I’ve found is the friendliest still; his heart grew three sizes up the hill from Whoville. (I just had to try my hand at a Seussian segue.) We’ll be keeping tabs on Jeff Skowron, the actor who’s playing the Grinch in The Old Globe’s production as he prepares to play the Green One. He’ll be blogging from backstage.

In his first dispatch he tries to quell the stress of packing up everything he owns to move to San Diego for a few months.

In other news:

• Remember when the Shepard Fairey mural in Hillcrest got tagged this summer? Protecting public murals isn’t easy, and some bluish remnants of the tags remain. We find out who’s in charge of cleaning up. And we find out what the building owners have to say.

• I found this round of our public art conversation especially interesting. Richard Gleaves, a local artist, joined our conversation to explain why he cares about the stories behind public art. He’s been blogging those stories over at the U-T.

• County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said in a recent meeting that more than 70 percent of the visitors to Balboa Park, the cultural heart of the region, come from outside of the city of San Diego. We fact-checked that statement.

• We found a 1915 film clip of Balboa Park from the Library of Congress.

Elsewhere:

• The L.A. Times takes a long look at the impact and influence of Kim MacConnel, the prominent local artist who’s garnered a ton of attention this month (including our peek inside his home). The Times’ art critic, Christopher Knight, visited MacConnel’s retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. The piece is a must-read. Knight helpfully schools the rest of us on what MacConnel — whom he calls an “authentic maverick” — means in the realm of contemporary art.

• The Ice Gallery, a converted ice factory in North Park, opened its latest show this weekend, Texture Fields, by local artist Thomas DeMello. Here’s a neat video look at DeMello constructing his pieces for the show. (I wrote about the first show in this gallery: Joseph Huppert’s large cube sculpture.)

• The Grinch isn’t the only backstage blogger in town. Over at the La Jolla Playhouse blog, an actor from the upcoming production of Ruined shares some of the films he watched to immerse himself in the painful world of armed conflict and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

• Nearly a quarter of the artists — 10 of 45 — celebrated in the California Biennial exhibit at the Orange County Museum of Art have San Diego roots. (The U-T reports that in 2006, only one artist came from San Diego, and the showing was sparse in 2008, too.) Sezio brings us a short video interview and photos with one of them, Andy Ralph, whose attempts to make ordinary objects come to life was also featured in this weekend’s Union-Tribune.

• Here’s something bound to catch the attention of a housing-turned-arts reporter: A local photographer makes images inspired by distress in the housing market. CityBeat follows along as she finds ostentatious homes in foreclosure and photographs them, flipping them upside down and overlaying text from their real estate listings.

• La Jolla Country Day’s school newsletter, the Torrey Times, interviews a soprano who started singing as part of the school’s fifth grade chorus. Now a rising star in Europe’s opera scene, she’ll sing with the San Diego Opera in its upcoming season.

• Finally, more news from the streets: One of the artists featured in MCASD’s street art show Viva la Revolución was awarded the TED Prize, a prestigious award where the recipient gets to choose a humanitarian cause to direct funds to. KPBS’s Culture Lust blog has a photo of JR‘s piece in downtown San Diego. The New York Times articulated JR’s work this way: “a shadowy figure who has made a name for himself by plastering colossal photographs in downtrodden neighborhoods around the world. The images usually extol local residents, to whom he has become a Robin Hood-like hero.”

And just like Robin Hood, JR operates best in secrecy. I loved this image the Times described: He wasn’t sure he was safe even when chatting for the first time with the people who were going to give him $100,000.

And, in fact, the first time prize officials had a Skype conversation with the artist, he appeared in sunglasses with a hat pulled low over his forehead.

“But then he said, ‘You know, I trust you guys,’ and he took them off … and we just had a regular old conversation.”

What kind of regular old conversations are you having about arts in San Diego? Mind if I eavesdrop? You can contact me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531 and follow her on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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