Jessica Sledge believes art is largely about a process. And the process of making projects at Agitprop and Space 4 Art, artist clusters in North Park and East Village, inspired Sledge, who is finishing a Master’s degree in visual arts at UCSD this year, to think differently about San Diego.

The projects were among 18 ArtLabs, local artistic ventures conceived to run in conjunction with last weekend’s contemporary art fair. The collaborations mysteriously worked, Sledge writes:

Every week we sat around a big circular table in the dim light of the space, threw out ideas, supported one another, and slowly but surely crafted our piece.

This is something I’m noticing more and more about the growing San Diego art scene — positivity breeds positivity and crossover is key. I used to work for nonprofits in New Orleans where corruption, extremely limited funding, and good old-fashioned Southern gossip made it very difficult for experimental venues to survive long-term. That is what I hope members of the growing San Diego arts community will avoid.

Our photographer, Sam Hodgson, stopped by a rehearsal for the ArtLab performance at Space 4 Art, the East Village warehouses-turned-art-studios. Here’s a peek of “Adjacent Possible,” which christened the collective’s new performance setup. Did you see the show on Saturday? Leave a comment and tell us what you thought.

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

Art Lab Reports

• There was lots to see as artists readied and presented their ArtLab projects last week. Two other MFA students from UCSD inscribed a message on the lawn at the waterfront Hilton using more than a hundred pounds of baking flour and homemade stencils. A designer and activist launched a mobile phone app that drops the stories of forgotten San Diego workers back into the landscape. The whole effort was designed to yield a new sense, or several, of what San Diego is, as the project’s curatorial director shared with us.

• The U-T photographed Sunday’s Giant Puppet Parade, checked out Barrio Logan’s myriad art happenings and lamented that some of the ArtLabs “seemed lost” amid the fair’s frenzy.

• CityBeat posed the question Susan Myrland asked ArtLab artists when they began their work: “How would you describe the San Diego art scene?”

• KPBS profiled two of the projects: A portrait series focused on San Diego’s homeless population, and a gigantic community picnic blanket unfurled Sunday to host a conversation about the city’s future.

San Diego Ties

• San Diego State announced a new, free concert series happening Wednesdays at noon. (East County Magazine)

• Sculptor Alison Saar, who lived and worked at Encinitas’s Lux Art Institute earlier this year gets a new commission in New York City.

• San Diego-based contemporary percussionist and composer Steven Schick’s willingness to hop onto the podium at the last minute for a premiere performance of an avant-garde orchestral work last fall garnered him some love in the New York Times this weekend. Schick explains his philosophy on integrating new works with standard repertoire:

“I wonder if people realize in the typical symphony orchestra paradigm how anesthetizing it is to an audience to be given the explicit or inferred message that ‘you’re probably not up to this,’ ” Mr. Schick said. “If you say to somebody: ‘Look, we’re not doing this for a grant or because we feel we should. We do it because we love it and because you are our audience, you are the people we’d like to share this with’ — something as simple as a gesture of friendship like this, I’ve never seen people that don’t respond.”

What do you think of Schick’s philosophy about mixing new works and traditional symphony pieces? Leave a note.

• In Orange County, the new artistic director at the South Coast Repertory theater, Marc Masterson, says transitioning from one leader to another doesn’t have to be the disaster it’s commonly expected to be in the theater world. Masterson pointed to San Diego’s The Old Globe as “a model of effective management transition” after the late Craig Noel passed along the mantle. (Orange County Register)

• There’s another transition to watch at the Globe, though: How the theater’s imminent production of “The Rocky Horror Show” will weather its latest blow, losing director Oanh Nguyen on Friday due to “artistic differences,” just weeks after its lead actor left the project. (North County Times)

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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

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

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