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The last day has been filled with the commotion raised by a local artist when she made her first and last post to her new blog on the Union-Tribune’s website.

Artist and art professor Katherine Sweetman used her space there to make sharp complaints about the U-T’s arts coverage, and to resign her blogging role. Her post was removed but her comments reignited the conversation that exploded earlier this year when the newspaper let go its longtime art critic, Robert Pincus.

The U-T’s editor, Jeff Light, emailed me his response to the whole thing, which included:

We think the arts are important; we’re doing everything we can to come up with new ways to enliven the conversation.

A commenter on Sweetman’s own blog took the chance to air a call to action (the commenter, Kevin Freitas, ran the local arts review website Art As Authority that appears now to be dormant):

It’s just that what needs to happen in SD is not to take the UT to task or some Evil Empire entity that doesn’t care whether you stay or go, it’s to write better criticism, make better art, and create the venues — both the actual spaces and the independent journalistic rags — that will support the artwork made and the words written about it. Raise the bar yourself, all of us, before blaming the woes of our “lack of” on someone else.

Join the escalating discussion. Other readers (including Pincus himself) chimed in Monday.

In other news:


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• A couple of years ago, I learned about a movement in San Diego to create affordable work spaces and living spaces for artists in the urban core so they wouldn’t scatter to the boonies and be isolated.

This year, that effort crystallized into San Diego Space 4 Art, a converted warehouse in East Village. I visited the space last week and brought along our friends from NBC 7/39 for a video peek in the fourth installment of Behind the Scene TV.

• Local dance troupe City Ballet performed last weekend a prestigious set of dances choreographed by George Balanchine. Sam Hodgson captured these photos as the dancers rehearsed in Pacific Beach recently.

• ‘My art is an extension of what I did as a reporter — telling stories.’ Meet our new arts storyteller, Dani Dodge. She picked up a paintbrush after returning from being an embedded journalist in Iraq and found: “I could create stories so much more beautiful and poignant and nuanced than anything I could ever write. And I was saved.”

She’s our guide from the inside, connecting us with the stories of artists and things she comes across in her own pursuit of artistic growth. Friday, Dodge introduced us to local artist Benjamin Heneberry. He’s the first artist-in-residence in a new program that artists in Dodge’s world have been buzzing about for months. Check out his collage paintings and find out what intersection to stand on, and which windows to look through, in order to watch artists work.

• A few buildings are standing taller — and others are slumping — after Thursday’s announcement of the annual Orchids and Onions for San Diego’s architecture, design, public art and more. Here’s a roundup of coverage on the winners and losers, including a Grand Orchid for the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall at the University of California, San Diego pictured below.

Elsewhere:

• Helpful for a local theater newbie like me: The U-T’s Jim Hebert wove a lot of context into this piece announcing that local actor Jason Heil will play one of the lead roles in an upcoming production at The Old Globe.

• Steampunk, a movement “filled with the wild contraptions people thought of in the Victorian era,” took the spotlight at the Oceanside Museum of Art last weekend. (North County Times)

• The U-T dives into a new exhibit where you can try on the costumes from The Old Globe’s illustrious history. (You can watch YouTube videos of the costumes’ creation on the San Diego History Center’s channel.)

• Local medical device company CareFusion is dropping its financial support of several of the country’s “most prestigious jazz festivals.” (U-T)

• CityBeat’s Kinsee Morlan gives an intriguing, descriptive account of a local artist’s switch from creating very distinct paintings of North Park alleys to more abstract, textural works, that experiment with “sand from a playground, a torn burlap bag or ripped newspaper.”

• KPBS spent some good time with local artist Kim MacConnel on the morning radio show These Days this week, delving into what catapulted MacConnel into being collected in Europe and what “bright” and “shiny” work he’s got up his sleeve now.

• “I just do abstract painting. It’s just, like, putting colors on a picture, but it’s not like you put random colors to make it all messy,” says six-year-old Ruben Dumka in the U-T. He won an art contest sponsored by a local gallery owner. “I just like painting abstract because you just feel like you don’t have to keep the colors in the lines because there is no line.”

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Please contact Kelly Bennett 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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