If the city can’t pay for firefighters, should it pay for the outdoor sculptures and art pieces that are commissioned for new fire stations? This is the perception question Mayor Jerry Sanders has been dealing with in the last few months, ever since a Channel 6 news story in September presented the dichotomy and the mayor suggested suspending the program the next day.

But when the mayor presented details at long last about his desire to suspend the city policy requiring spending money on public art, the biggest piece he included in his plan wouldn’t directly do anything to put more cops or firefighters on the street. That’s because the remaining $700,000 for the new library’s public art is supposed to come from private donations, and thus wouldn’t be the city’s money to divert, anyway, we found.

The mayor’s plan got me thinking: What is planned for the new central library’s public art? City officials and the artists themselves detailed some of the approved artwork for us, like a wall that artist Donald Lipski wants to encrust with thousands of books.

I was fascinated by how long it can take to get from idea to artwork, from planning to actually making the work, and how artists struggle to keep their ideas fresh in the (many) intervening years.

You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly rundown of interesting stories in the local art scene, from our pages and elsewhere. We’re sorry for the delay this week — the holiday Monday and the nasty virus going around kept us from publishing on our usual Tuesday.

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The Struggle of Art:

• Veteran record shop owner Lou Russell of Lou’s Records in Leucadia incarnates the battle for record shops’ survival. (CityBeat)

• A local potter who’s been blind since age 3 challenges the idea that beauty is what you can see.

• A study into hip injuries and recovery after surgery for dancers was scheduled to be presented at an orthopedic surgeons’ convention in San Diego last week. (Hospital for Special Surgery)

• I think it was CityBeat’s Kinsee Morlan who called gallery owner Alexander Salazar the Energizer bunny of the local art scene. NBC takes a dizzying look at just a few of the things Salazar’s up to. (NBC San Diego)

The San Diego Style:

• A Lakeside gun engraver and former mainstay in the local Irish music scene etches stories on firearms. (U-T)

• Orange County theater South Coast Repertory taps the leadership paradigm honed at The Old Globe in San Diego, whereby founder Craig Noel turned over the reins to newcomer Jack O’Brien in 1981 but stayed involved for nearly 30 years. (LA Times)

• Graffiti artist and teacher Daniel Moses, street name “Pose,” pushes to decriminalize graffiti art. (KPBS)

Alternative chamber music played by some of the region’s top classical musicians is popping up from Barrio Logan to Little Italy, UCSD to Balboa Park. (U-T)

• Local bar Blind Lady Ale House’s recent art show featuring photos taken only on cell phones snags a blog mention for its clever title, “Phonography.” (USA Today)

• A “pivotal figure in San Diego’s art community” for decades, artist Patricia Patterson installs a retrospective exhibit in Escondido. (U-T)

Striving for Excellence:

• Listening to the San Diego Symphony makes KUSI newsman’s heart soar. (KUSI)

• The American Academy of Arts and Letters honors UCSD’s Rand Steiger, composer-in-residence. (U-T)

• An orchestra in the very top echelon of orchestras worldwide will be in San Diego in a matter of days. (U-T)

• Collecting broom handles and spoons, tiny sharpened pencils and a bandsaw blade, local graphic design firm proprietor Ron Miriello sculpts his own little worlds. (CityBeat)

And finally, actor Andrew Samonsky, who’s been writing about his experience playing Joshua in the La Jolla Playhouse’s production of “Little Miss Sunshine,” wrote this week about the transition from rehearsals in a black-walled studio to rehearsals on the stage, with full costume, lighting, makeup and music.

Says Samonsky: “This show that you’ve been rehearsing over and over suddenly feels like an old friend you bump into on the street but don’t recognize right away,” he wrote. (U-T)

Here’s to bumping into more artsy things we don’t recognize right away.

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Amy Smith contributed to this Arts Report.

Please contact Kelly Bennett directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531 and follow her on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

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

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