For more than 50 years, James and Anne Hubbell have been living down a winding dirt road in the backcountry, building structure after structure with clay, wood, stained glass windows and mosaics. The dwellings and art studios look like they’ve grown out of the ground, and that’s intentional.

“I think one of the problems with our culture is that we’ve been trying to control the world too much,” Hubbell said. “I think we think we can think up the future. And I think we need to begin to appreciate that the world is magical, and that we don’t know.”

Hubbell is a remarkable man. We followed him through doorways and around his property, listening to his thoughts about the world and seeing all of the structures and art he’s made in Santa Ysabel over the years. You also see more photographs of his magical world. Hubbell, who’s made public art around the county and the world, turns 80 this year.

You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.

Trouble Bubbling

• A veteran arts organization, Sushi Contemporary Performance and Visual Arts, shut its doors last week after more than 30 years of presenting edgy performances in San Diego.

A board member said the decision to dissolve the institution happened after “many conversations, a lot of soul-searching and last-ditch meetings to try and pull it together.” (Union-Tribune)

• That news came the same day as a front-page story on the financial footing of local arts organizations, published to coincide with the first day of the Americans for the Arts national convention here last weekend. The paper also ran a chart with 2010 budgets and salaries for local arts groups. (U-T)

What in that chart surprised you? What do you think we should follow up on? Leave us a comment.

• After getting a few press releases from governments and companies just trying to get hip by trying to organize what are supposed to be spontaneous gatherings, CityBeat declares flash mobs uncool: “Sudden and surprising assemblage isn’t so sudden or surprising anymore.”

• Another longtime local arts fixture, the Celebrate Dance Festival, might not happen this year after its new organizers backed out last week, citing financial reasons. (U-T)

Art Outside

• For a La Jolla Playhouse production this fall, playgoers will carry an audio player around the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas to hear a story unfold. (North County Times)

• On KPBS’s Midday Edition today, an Encinitas councilwoman talked about the “Surfing Madonna” mosaic declared illegal by the city. I missed the conversation but the station usually posts the audio soon after the interview.

The mosaic will come down and the artist will pay to remove it “as soon as reasonably possible” under a new agreement between the artist, Mark Patterson, and the city of Encinitas, the U-T’s Jonathan Horn reported today.

Patterson quit his tech job and went to Italy to study how to make mosaics, living off his savings while he made the piece to install on a train bridge. Now he’ll have to pay, the U-T reports:

Patterson will pay for the unauthorized but beloved stained-glass mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard to be taken down. He will also pay a $500 administrative fine to the city, and reimburse Encinitas the $2,125 it paid to Los Angeles-based Sculpture Conservation Studio for its study on how to remove the mosaic without damage.

• We’ve been tugging on this thread all week (har, har):

Yarn bombing is a style of street art where people knit or crochet colorful coverings for objects like a statue or a lamppost. I wrote last week about sleuthing on a crochet-covered bicycle in Washington, D.C., and asked you to keep your eyes peeled for yarn bombs around here.

Our photographer Sam Hodgson snapped a couple of shots of yarn bombs in Hillcrest (reportedly made by Philadelphia artist Jessie Hemmons) and on El Cajon Boulevard. And reader Lizbeth Persons Price passed along a couple photographs of the crocheted handrails on the Spruce Street pedestrian bridge.

• UCSD has been collecting and commissioning new outdoor sculptures in pockets all over its campus for three decades. The Stuart Collection, as it’s called, now comprises 17 sculptures, with another on the way this fall. Americans for the Arts gave a national public art award last week to Mary Beebe, the collection’s director, and we talked to Beebe next to a giant bear made from boulders for our weekly TV segment with NBC San Diego.

• Reader Richard Gleaves (who keeps a blog about San Diego’s public art over at the U-T) wrote a really interesting comment on the Stuart Collection post.

How does a piece of art, dreamt up when a space looked one way 30 years later, hold up when the surrounding environment has likely changed?

“The thing I find most interesting about the Stuart Collection doesn’t get talked about: namely, what happens to site-specific artwork when the site itself just will not stay put,” he writes.

• That question also holds for an installation of street art, too, like in the case of a mural that the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego commissioned last year for its street art exhibition.

The wheatpaste (think wallpaper) mural Shepard Fairey put up on the side of a building in Hillcrest last year is close to being obscured by an adjacent building, we reported yesterday. The mural’s been through a lot in its short life: It was tagged, then scrubbed, and now is going to be hidden.

Over on our Facebook page, Erik Hanson expressed relief that one of the other pieces commissioned for the museum’s show, a Barry McGee piece on the side of the California Theatre, has also come down, and posited that the other mural Fairey did for the show, in South Park, is better than the Hillcrest one, anyway. What do you think? Leave a comment on our website or on Facebook.

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Kelly Bennett is the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach her directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

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

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