Before I moved to the arts beat, I wrote a monthly series about people in San Diego in their jobs.

This year, the series took me to the workplaces of an ex-Marine who was apprenticing as a welder, a tattoo artist in Barrio Logan and a woman who sews the clothes that strippers wear (and take off). We spent the afternoon with a swim teacher whose arthritis means she’s more comfortable in water than on land. We visited the ranches of San Diego’s backcountry with a horseshoer. And we found a man with a who’s been scrubbing the tables of a bowling alley in Mira Mesa for a decade.

These are our neighbors. And since we launched this new arts section, Behind the Scene, just four months ago, we’ve met even more fascinating people. Their work and lives provide a great lens for viewing the art and drama of making art in San Diego. Here are a few:

We checked out the art on the walls of a local artist who garnered a lot of buzz this year, Kim MacConnel (after finding his art on the wall of a local gallery director).

We met women who’ve recently arrived in San Diego after living through horrible things in the Congo, women who saw a bit of their own stories portrayed in the recent local production of the play Ruined.

We met the woman who runs the San Diego Symphony library — “the Joan Rivers of symphony librarians, a wise-cracking, Brooklyn-born, former French horn player.” Nothing happens on stage before it happens in her library, like getting the music arranged so each section — like the symphony’s cellists — have something to play when Yo-Yo Ma comes to town.

We met the guy who went from security guard at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to meeting prominent artist Robert Irwin and becoming his assistant. When we talked to him this summer, he’d just put on an art show featuring a large cube he designed and installed in a former ice factory in North Park.

We caught up a few times with the guy playing the Grinch about life as the green one. We met the woman who sends a piece of herself onstage through the makeup, wigs and costumes she creates for local theater and opera. The guy who brings artists and scientists together for regular conversations told us the bridges he sees in the two disciplines.

We met artists like Dan Adams, whose paintings of dogs have snagged him some local acclaim. We now know the 32-year-old painter who spent the first stint in a kitchen-sized storefront in the Gaslamp, the woman who opened a clay studio in the middle of a recession and a woman who sought to hang a full-size boxing ring from the rafters of a warehouse-turned-art-gallery in East Village.

We met a ballerina who serves beer between rehearsals. And a video artist who invented a version of a “color organ” to play colored lights in time with a century-old piece of music.

I’m out of the country for a few days to see my folks, but I can’t wait to meet more of our creative neighbors in the coming months. Please send me your ideas for people I should be sure to know.

I’m the arts editor for VOSD. Have an idea for something I should explore in San Diego’s arts scene? Please contact me directly at or 619.325.0531. You can also follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett

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

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