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Maurizio Seracini’s three decades of sleuthing to locate a da Vinci masterpiece painting looks close to a big break, the New York Times reported this weekend — thanks to an octogenarian nuclear physicist and the Googling skills of a freelance photographer from Indiana.

Seracini directs UCSD’s Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archeology and believes a da Vinci masterpiece is hidden under a wall in Florence’s government headquarters. The New York Times this weekend reported a photographer, David Yoder, found someone who can help take an image of the painting underneath — a nuclear physicist from near Chicago.

We profiled Seracini’s captivating work a couple of years ago.

I’m curious: What are some other places you can think of where technology, art history and mysteries, and science should be applied simultaneously? Leave us a note.

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

An Unrelenting Magnet

• The trouble at Starlight Musical Theatre was a long time coming, as Anne Marie Welsh reported in the Union-Tribune recently.

The theater’s bankruptcy filing piqued my interest, so I found some of the theater’s devotees and asked them why they stuck around. For some it was a smell; for others the chance to see their neighbors on stage. For many it’s been an irresistible magnet, an attraction they can’t quite define but can’t shake, either. My story describes the great lengths some (like “Starlight Lady” Cinda Lucas) have gone to to keep it alive — staggering amounts of money, time and energy — over 65 years.

• We focused on Starlight’s financial freeze for last week’s Behind the Scene TV segment, too. (NBC San Diego)

Made in San Diego:

• One of the best parts of a contemporary art fair, argue the organizers of San Diego’s, is that it energizes a bunch of local artists to put together their own pieces and parties. The local component of this weekend’s Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair has inspired throngs of local creatives to make new work. We’ll be featuring some of them this week.

• The Art Fair this weekend kicks off Arts Month in San Diego. Organizers, still refining their vision for the fair here, say some of the galleries that come “feel that we don’t have — I don’t want to use this word — ‘sophisticated’ collectors,” said co-founder Ann Berchtold. (U-T)

• Local theater critic Jeff Smith wishes the playhouses could get together and not plan their opening nights on the same night as another theater. I’ve heard echoes of this wish in the visual art scene. (Reader)

• The partnership between San Diego Repertory Theatre and the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts — making last year’s “Hairspray” and this year’s “Tommy” sparkle — “might be a model for other schools.” (KPBS)

• The 11th annual “Toy Piano Festival” is happening this week. UCSD library assistant Scott Paulson dreamed up the festival; his toy piano advocacy led the Library of Congress “to establish a special call number and subject heading just for toy piano scores in 2001.” (North County Times)

• With Street Scene defunct for a couple of years now, Seth Combs asks: Will San Diego ever have a large-scale music festival again? (CityBeat)

Money Break:

• The foundation managing the arts and culture and nonprofit district in Point Loma’s former Naval Training Center successfully appealed its tax bills with the county and will see a partial refund of the $1 million-plus it convinced the city to pay earlier this year.

• Cygnet Theatre announced it’s shaking up its season lineup “in response to economic concerns.” (U-T)

• Local gallery Scott White Contemporary Art just signed a 10-year, $936,360 lease for 3,000 square feet of space in La Jolla, moving from West Kalmia Street in Little Italy. (La Jolla Patch)

• Also moving to La Jolla: Thumbprint Gallery, after two years in North Park.

Looking Ahead

• In a fall preview of local arts happenings, the U-T’s arts team highlights must-see events around the county:

DANCE: A new version of Stravinsky’s “Les Noces” that will involve Tijuana’s celebrated troupe Lux Boreal and choreographer Allyson Green.

THEATER: A “roving audio drama” happening in a garden instead of a theater, and the return of local favorite Des McAnuff for his acclaimed new production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

MUSIC: San Diego’s avant garde percussion collective, red fish blue fish, has a huge season this year.

MUSEUMS: The New Children’s Museum’s upcoming exhibition promises to turn trash to treasure and the Museum of Contemporary Art plots its biggest “Light and Space” exhibition ever.

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

Kelly Bennett

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

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