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In 1973, a muralist grabbed a loaded paint roller with a 10-foot handle and “ran across Logan Avenue whooping as though about to pole vault into the bay.” That’s a recollection from the introduction to the formal plan to restore some of the famous murals coloring bridges and pillars under freeways in Chicano Park.

Even murals painted with such radical gusto have faded and chipped over the years. Now some original artists are returning to add new color to — and in some cases, to finish or reinvent — their murals. We spent some time in the park with some of the original artists last week to bring you this story, photos and video of the landmark’s facelift.

As I wrote, it’s a complicated thing to invite artists with four more decades of experience under their belts to revisit work they made in their youth. Should the artist just repaint the same lines he painted in the 1970s, or bring to the table new techniques, new colors? The new Chicano Park could look significantly brighter and more modern than the old one as the restoration continues.

You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news. Save the date for the evening of Feb. 1, our second helping of last June’s popular “Meeting of the Minds” event highlighting six exciting things in local arts and culture.

More Art Outdoors

• A 25-foot statue depicting a sailor kissing a nurse will decamp from the waterfront at the end of next month after six years there. (KPBS)

Its departure “will be a victory for the quality of public art in San Diego,” said former Union-Tribune art critic Bob Pincus on Twitter. He’s never pretended to like the sculpture.

What do you think? Leave us a note on our Facebook page.

• Local beloved artist and architect James Hubbell’s property in Santa Ysabel will be transformed into a public arts center. The arts education nonprofit in charge is raising money for a new building to host groups. (CityBeat)

We spent a delightful morning with Hubbell for this Q&A and collection of photographs last year.

San Diego Roots

• In his roundup of the year’s theater productions, critic Jeff Smith calls for The Old Globe to hire an artistic director — not just a business manager — when it replaces departed CEO Lou Spisto. (San Diego Reader)

“We are not a stepping stone” to Broadway, Smith writes.

Years ago, when the fever first appeared, Craig Noel, the father of San Diego theater, was puzzled by all the talk of this or that show headed for Broadway and names in lights. Forget all that, I heard him say. “Just do good work.”

• Cuban-born artist Tocayo painted the walls at some of the hippest restaurants in town. He landed in San Diego years ago, making a living as a surfboard painter. As he prepares to move soon, he extols SD’s local, mellow art community in our Q&A.


• The much-loved all-ages music venue Ché Café on UCSD’s campus will have to stop hosting shows if it can’t come up with money to pay its insurance company by March. “The Ché has been a haunt for vegan anarchists, hardcore punks and underage music fans for more than 30 years,” writes Peter Holslin. (CityBeat)

• Athol Fugard, South Africa’s playwright laureate and longtime San Diego resident, has a big year ahead on New York City stages. (New York Times)

• When local classical station XLNC1 needs money, owner/operator Martha Barba de Diaz makes up the difference herself. “XLNC1 is a present from Mexico to the San Diego Tijuana area. It’s our gift. Victor, my late husband, was so proud to be able to give this present to the area,” she says. (U-T San Diego)

• A visual arts professor at the University of San Diego is spending his sabbatical in Lebanon to complete an art project focused on Palestinian refugees. (The Lebanon Daily Star)

• Security guard Max Metzler knows the disorienting, pitch-black “Zero Mass” installation in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s “Phenomenal” show better than just about anyone. Listen to how he guides visitors through the way their eyes adjust to the darkness of the piece. (CityBeat)

• He took a class at The Old Globe 15 years ago, and ever since, Tom Haine has pursued drama and Shakespeare when he’s not at his day job as an attorney for the Border Patrol and for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He’s currently directing (and playing King Claudius) in a production of “Hamlet” at a theater in Point Loma.

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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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