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A place to see certifiably edgy stuff in town is gone, and those who loved Sushi Contemporary and Visual Art are mourning. For 30 years, the groundbreaking Sushi operated on the fringes, introducing San Diego audiences to avant-garde artists and works that would go on to achieve great national and international renown (KPBS). The nonprofit announced it was dissolving last week, citing financial pressures too great for the organization to bear.
At Sushi, the seams weren’t always neat. For a time the founder of the “once-vital arts institution,” Lynn Schuette, lived in the loft where she put on shows, sharing her personal bathroom with patrons and keeping wine and beer in her own fridge to sell at intermission.
The Union-Tribune asked some of its arts veterans for their remembrances for a tribute this weekend. Pop music critic George Varga: “In an era when few ventured to San Diego’s then-moribund downtown at night, Sushi hosted a loyal cadre of creative seekers and endearing misfits, on stage and off.”
Theater critic Anne Marie Welsh said Schuette’s ties to different communities made the venue “the crucible for a melding of audiences that in other cities might not otherwise meet.” Dance critic Janice Steinberg said Sushi connected “our distant corner of the country to the vanguard of world performance art.”
The space Sushi occupied most recently, the ground floor of the Icon building in East Village, carries a 25-year discounted lease for an arts group, CityBeat reported. A Sushi board member said she hopes another arts group can move in to the neighborhood’s “emerging landscape.” The space is directly across the street from the under-construction new central library.
You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.
On the Edge:
• In the shadows of the big theaters’ summertime offerings are several intriguing under-the-radar plays. (U-T)
• Union workers hula-hooped in front of the County Administration Building last week to protest the government’s purchase of a swooping hoop-like sculpture. (CityBeat)
• Since revealing the nonprofit NTC Foundation’s tax snafu, I’ve been asked a lot: Why would a foundation create for-profit companies? I explain it’s part of a common structure nonprofits use to take advantage of federal tax credit programs, though I found out that other nonprofits fully expected they’d be on the hook for property taxes. The NTC Foundation didn’t expect those bills and was surprised when they came from the county.
And two of the nonprofits who faced higher rent as a result of the mix up are now looking at much more manageable leases as they negotiate with the foundation.
• The artist behind the Surfing Madonna mosaic in Encinitas agreed to pay fines and costs for its removal.
The mural was taken down at night last week in less than two hours; it was not damaged. (U-T)
• County officials rejected county grand jury recommendations that its community grants, which sometimes go to support arts organizations, add extra restrictions and requirements for groups applying for funds, saying the recommendations were “not warranted or reasonable.” (U-T)
• Across the country, arts-related philanthropic giving was up in 2010, but still lower than its 2007 level. (Los Angeles Times)
• The torso boulder for artist Tim Hawkinson’s “Bear,” which Sam Hodgson photographed in a collection of images from the UCSD Stuart Collection of public sculpture, had to be transported from the Pala reservation on an 18-axle truck.
• Once the general manager at San Diego Repertory Theatre, 32-year-old Tom Parrish is now co-CEO at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, N.Y., proclaimed by the newspaper there the “youngest executive in the country to lead a major arts organization.” (Democrat and Chronicle)
• Miles Anderson, starring in two of The Old Globe’s three summer Shakespeare Festival productions, began memorizing his 1,200 lines for “Amadeus” in November, showing up this spring with the part completely memorized, which “terrified” his counterpart playing Mozart, Jay Whittaker. (North County Times)
Anderson’s performance in “Amadeus,” a fictionalized story of a rivalry between the virtuosic Mozart and the tormented old composer Antonio Salieri, earned lush praise from theater critic James Hebert this weekend. (U-T)
• A summer tradition, free organ concerts on Monday nights in Balboa Park, opened last week. We checked out the concert with our partners at NBC7 San Diego. Listen in.
• San Diego Symphony’s Summer Pops by the numbers: Two swarms of bees apparently show up to rehearsal every year, 15 cannon shots punctuate the annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” and 666 plates of cheese were sold last year. (U-T)
The devil’s in the dairy, apparently.
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