Upending the familiar model of art grants going to big institutions, a new program from the San Diego Foundation aims money at individual artists’ ideas. If a museum or an orchestra wants in on the game, it must agree to house or support the selected artists’ work.

In our interview a couple of months ago with Felicia Shaw, the San Diego Foundation’s arts chief, Shaw said the program is a shot at retaining artists in San Diego.

But if we don’t support individual artists to do what they want to — not what you want them to do — they’ll move away to New York and Los Angeles, and our community will suffer. We have to do something directly for them.

While I was out of town for the holidays, the foundation announced its winners in a story in the Union-Tribune. Fifteen artists will share more than $285,000, selected from a pool of 175 applicants, and will team up with local institutions.

The projects include film, storytelling, music, dance and theater. They all sound intriguing. Here’s a handful:

• Sound artist Margaret Noble (also a celebrated digital art teacher at High Tech High Media Arts) will install a piece of art involving poetry, photography, sound and design called “44th and Landis,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego this summer and fall. She told the U-T she grew up in City Heights in the 1980s and connects her art, DJing and philosophy to her childhood.

• Writer Justin Hudnall will compile personal stories of people who live in East County for a print and multimedia anthology and performance called “The Far East.” Hudnall, executive director of the literary collective “So Say We All,” will work with the San Diego Writers Ink organization for the project.

• Artist Brandie Maddalena will make an interactive community installation featuring 60 cabinets containing audio recordings and artwork, each representing children’s memories. For the project, called “The Nature of a Door Is to Be Opened,” she’ll work with Young Audiences of San Diego.

Jazz trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos will create a theatre production about San Diego’s jazz history and notable musicians, including military musicians. He’ll work with the San Diego Repertory Theatre on his “The Federal Jazz Project.”

• Another intriguing theater project will be Monique Gaffney’s, based on the life of Henrietta Lacks. She’ll work with the La Jolla Playhouse.

• Wes Bruce, an artist whose fort at an Escondido museum we featured last year, will interview hundreds of individuals about the connection they have to places like their homes and workplaces, weaving the interviews into a storytelling installation at Lux Art Institute.

• And, full disclosure: Local musician and my bandmate Joel P. West was awarded one of the grants to write songs for a new full-length record for my band, The Tree Ring. The sponsoring organization for the project is local chamber music ensemble Camarada.

You can read more details about the selected artists’ work here.

Which ones do you look forward to checking out? Leave us a note below.

I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

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

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.