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In the name of art, crews heaved a 70,000-pound house atop a seven-story engineering building at the University of California, San Diego, last week. The campus is home to an internationally acclaimed collection of art works. “Fallen Star,” dreamed by artist Do Ho Suh, is the 18th addition to the collection.

We were there Tuesday morning for the hoist alongside a big crowd, including the artist, Mary Beebe, director of the UCSD’s Stuart Collection and Irwin Jacobs, the Qualcomm co-founder for whom the engineering buildings are named. “My heart is coming out of my mouth,” Suh told Beebe while they watched before the pair popped champagne when the house reached the roof.

 

The story of the house hoist stretched across local media: A front-page story and a photo gallery in the Union-Tribune; a Reuters photo gallery on MSNBC and television stories on Fox5 and KPBS.

Taking a shot at the project, 10News trotted out perennial tax antagonist Richard Rider to decry the $90,000 grant (out of a $1.3 million total raised from otherwise private donors) that the National Endowment for the Arts gave the collection for the piece.

I heard from construction supervisor Don Franken on Friday that the crews finished the final steps of attaching the house to the building late last week. Now, they’ll turn their attention to finishing the cottage interior and then starting on the rooftop garden. The school anticipates the project will be officially finished early next year.

You can watch a great documentary about Suh’s exploration of themes like home and dislocation in the PBS Art21 series.

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

Big-Deal Art

• Community conversation continues to swirl about the proposed 500-foot wings sculpture for downtown’s waterfront. The first public meeting is next Tuesday at the port district building.

But what does the artist himself think of the flap? KPBS’s Angela Carone spoke to the now-90-year-old artist, Malcolm Leland, on the phone from the Portland assisted living facility he now resides in:

Leland’s original design was an outdoor amphitheater with two large sails that could fold down over a seating area to shield the audience from rain or harsh sun.

Well, I’m frustrated that they’re not using my idea because it’s so simple,” Leland told KPBS. Architect Hal Sadler said the design was a team effort and said even the tweaked version without the amphitheater is “a proud statement of who we are and what we can be.”

 

• Valerie Scher discovers just how much of a moneymaker “The Nutcracker” is this time of year for several ballet companies. One company expects to clear six figures in profit, which helps them fund their performances the rest of the year. (San Diego Magazine)

• The Art Newspaper’s blurb about the “Phenomenal” show at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego includes this choice description from curator Robin Clark about one common inspiration for the artists in the ethereal show:

They were in the same ambient atmosphere of the ocean, sky and horizon melting.

Local Talent

• The National Endowment for the Arts announced grants for several local arts organizations last week: AjA Project, San Diego Opera, Cygnet Theatre, San Diego REPertory Theatre, two local film festivals, the Carlsbad Music Festival, the La Jolla Music Society and the San Diego Zoo. (NEA)

California organizations received one-fifth — $4.3 million — of the national total. (Los Angeles Times)

• Jessie Gulati plays sitar in the local band The Donkeys and passed along some pointers for playing the Indian instrument, starting with removing your shoes, washing your hands and cleaning the sitar before playing. “It’s an extension of you. You need to respect it.” (CityBeat)

• Local jazz flute hero Holly Hoffman attracts superlatives from her musical collaborators in advance of a concert this weekend: “Man or woman, Holly is the best flute player I’ve ever heard.” (U-T)

• Students and professors from the “hotbed of talent” at UCSD put up a new show of their work last weekend that will be on display through mid-January. (North County Times)

• The buzzed-about production “Of Mice and Men” at New Village Arts in Carlsbad is extending its run through Friday. (U-T)

• Dave Hampton went from working in a furniture store to writing a book about all of the midcentury San Diego artists he could track down and curating the craft show at the Mingei Museum.

 

• Actor and San Carlos resident Melinda Gilb spent 10 years in the Grinch musical at The Old Globe and says sometimes she runs into erstwhile Cindy Lous around town. “Girls will come up to me and ask, ‘Do you remember me?’ I go, ‘You must be one of my Who kids,’” she said. (Mission Times Courier)

Those Who kids this year both live in North County: Remy Margaret Corbin and Caitlin McAuliffe switch off playing Cindy Lou. (North County Times)

• Contemporary art curator Jill Dawsey is moving back to her hometown, San Diego, after more than three years at the helm of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. She’ll become associate curator at MCASD. (Salt Lake Tribune)

• Eighty-six-year-old Gerald Bongard lugs his saxophone to band practice every week, joining other retirees from across North County in the “New Horizons Band.” (KPBS)

He plays the same sax his uncle gave him when he was 10.

“I treasure it because it’s been with me virtually all of my life,” he says. “It’s something that I enjoy every day and the both of us, we get along.”

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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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