The latest plan to create something of an icon or landmark for San Diego came out last week, the brainchild of the USS Midway Museum, which wants to develop the Navy Pier adjacent to the aircraft carrier. The plan includes adding another level of parking and installing a park on top, creating a summer home for the symphony and — most controversially — building two titanium-and-steel wings or sails for the end of the pier reaching up to 500 feet high.
Proponents of the $68 million plan say it’s San Diego’s chance to have an Eiffel Tower or a St. Louis arch. Civic leader Malin Burnham is part of pushing the plan, and he involved a philanthropist buddy from South Dakota, Denny Sanford, who’s pledged to give $35 million for the cost of the wings. (Union-Tribune)
Our community has had a lot to say about the sculpture itself, its price tag and the current icon de jour, the new downtown library, which has almost as much still to raise as Sanford pledged for the wings.
Mary Beebe, the director of UCSD’s Stuart Collection of artwork who’s been nationally recognized for her work in public art, suggested another artist do the project. “These ‘wings’ are silly beyond words,” she said.
One of the people who’ll make the final decision — port Commissioner Bob Nelson — wrote a letter Friday encouraging San Diegans to give the big wings a chance.
You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.
The Work of Art
• This morning, crews are rigging up an off-kilter house to a giant crane and planning to hoist it on to the top level of an engineering building at UCSD. The house is an art piece by Do Ho Suh, whose move from Korea to the United States 20 years ago left him feeling like he’d been dropped out of the sky. By making model houses that look like a tornado has picked them up and spun them around, the artist hopes you think about dislocation, disorientation and where home is.
I was at the construction site watching the hoist. Check my Twitter feed @kellyrbennett to follow how it unfolded.
• Once a high school theater teacher running summer plays on a shoestring budget, Kathy Brombacher has spent the last 30-some years at the helm of the city of Vista’s Moonlight Stage Productions. She’s going to retire next year, she announced recently. For this week’s Behind the Scene TV, we visited Brombacher’s crowning achievement, the relatively new outdoor Moonlight Amphitheater, and learned why she believes outdoor theater won’t go out of style.
Next summer, for Brombacher’s last season, Moonlight will put on “Anything Goes,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Legally Blonde” and “Sweeney Todd.” (North County Times)
• How much are you willing to drop for a ticket to see a concert, a play, a museum exhibit? And how far back in history do discounts for arts troupes go? Roxana Popescu continues her exploration of these calculations in our “Will Call” series. Next up: How sites like Groupon and Goldstar are changing the world of discounts.
The Union-Tribune’s Jim Hebert ventured down the tickets/discount path last year, finding that the live, labor-intensive nature of performances makes it tough to lower ticket prices for many local groups.
• The former owner of 4th and B, downtown’s concert venue that can hold 1,500 people, told the San Diego Reader he’s “in the process of taking the club back from its current owner.”
Made in San Diego, or by San Diegans
• Believing math and art don’t have to live on opposite poles, two local high school teachers have their students weave the subjects together in digital art projects like films, photographic essays and animations. The High Tech High Media Arts teachers, Margaret Noble and David Stahnke, won a prestigious global prize for their efforts last week.
We visited their class last December for Behind the Scene TV; you can watch more here.
• Hillcrest-based artist Gustaf Rooth turned down luxury chain Neiman Marcus’s order for his wine- and bourbon-barrel chairs, helping further hone his philosophy: “Relationship over retail, quality over quantity.” (U-T)
• Local artist Tocayo (aka Juan Marante) is the guy behind a few popular restaurant walls, like El Camino in Little Italy. He posted photos from his latest culinary coup, painting the walls at the new Irvine sister restaurant to Bankers Hill’s Cucina Urbana, the Cucina Enoteca. (Tocayo’s blog)
• An actress in Diversionary Theatre’s “Learn to Be Latina” play finds it “vulgar, offensive and hilarious.” (KPBS)
• Eveoke Dance Theatre is taking its popular “Las Mariposas” performance, steeped in the history of the Dominican Republic, to that country later this month. (U-T) We’ll have more about the tour and the performance in next week’s Behind the Scene TV.
• UCSD composer Philippe Manoury, photographed here in a spooky swirl of cigar smoke, thinks symphony and opera audiences are open to experiencing contemporary music, so long as it’s “inspired, intelligently presented and well-performed.” (U-T)
• Pianist Joshua White, 26, sometimes finds himself staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning, practicing his craft. KPBS’s Angela Carone follows White to Dizzy’s jazz club and Encanto Southern Baptist Church to discover more of the rising star’s routine.
• National arts journalist Tyler Green finds many light and color effects to ponder in artist De Wain Valentine’s “Diamond Column” piece in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s “Phenomenal” show. (Modern Art Notes)
• Want to be an usher for the San Diego Symphony? U-T columnist Karla Peterson learned you must provide your own uniform and know where the designated doctor is sitting.
• Steve Schick, local percussionist and conductor, performed in a tribute to composer and former UCSD professor George Lewis, now based in New York City.
Lewis wrote a piece for Schick in 1996, which The New York Times review describes as a “sly, lively conflation of slave-era lore and basketball heroism:”
The piece calls for a percussionist to rumble, jitter and snap in loose-limbed coordination with a recorded track that mixes fractured hip-hop beats, a recitation by the poet Quincy Troupe and sound bites of hoop stars like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.
Lest you wonder whether white men can drum in such a fashion, Schick has written about the “cultural vertigo” that came from being “a white middle-aged, classically trained percussionist intently focused on accurately rendering hip-hop rhythms to a mostly white, mostly middle-aged audience. I was Ward Cleaver in a pick-up game of basketball on a Harlem playground.”
But the piece taught Schick something: It “made me realize more strongly than ever that exploration and comfort would never be conveniently mated.”
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