Researchers from UC San Diego working in Florence, Italy, said yesterday they’ve discovered new, exciting clues that a long-lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci is hidden behind another centuries-old painting. That painting is also considered a masterpiece by painter Giorgio Vasari.

The clues include small amounts of black pigment that has a chemical makeup similar to pigments found on da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and “John the Baptist” works, according to a news release from Calit2, the center at UCSD that houses the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology, which has been leading this effort. Four grad students and an alum from the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD are there, too.

More from the lead researcher from UCSD, who’s been looking for the lost da Vinci painting for more than 30 years:

“These data are very encouraging,” said National Geographic Fellow Maurizio Seracini, founding director of UCSD CISA3. “Although we are still in the preliminary stages of the research and there is still a lot of work to be done to solve this mystery, the evidence does suggest that we are searching in the right place.”

Drilling into the Vasari has made the project controversial for many art historians.

As the L.A. Times mentioned in the coverage of these new clues:

The holes were made in areas where Vasari’s original paint was already missing.

Nevertheless, hundreds of leading art historians from Europe and the United States decried Seracini’s work, saying that he was destroying a known masterpiece in a futile quest to find a missing one.

The National Geographic Channel will air a documentary about the research beginning this Sunday. In 2008, we profiled Seracini’s efforts to develop new ways to solve some of the greatest cultural mysteries in the world.



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

How to Get ‘That Story’

• We’ve got details on two great ways to see “How I Got That Story” at Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company. Join us for a VOSD field trip to see the play this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the 10th Avenue Theatre downtown. If you’re a VOSD member, you can get tickets for a discounted price of $10.

• If you missed an installment of our new Arts: Embedded series about the usually hidden work and emotion behind making a play come to life on stage, here’s a look at how they got “That Story” to the stage.

• And a U.S. Navy nurse who bought his tickets to see the play from a barracks in a combat hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan, wrote us an engaging letter about his experience seeing the play and growing up in both the military and theater communities in San Diego.



Happening Here

• The 25-foot “kiss” statue could stay — in a new, bronzed version — on the waterfront if supporters can raise nearly $1 million for it in the next year. Port officials voted 4-to-2 to accept the new statue even though it goes against the port’s new policy of art-collecting. (U-T)

A local artist and curator who’s a member of the port’s art committee, David White, penned an open letter to the officials, calling their decision an “unconditional surrender to mediocrity” on his Agitprop online forum.

• The San Diego Latino Film Festival is making some changes. Every year SDLFF chooses a country to focus on, and this year the United States has earned that honor, making American Latino films the focal point. The festival, in its 19th year, will also feature movies from Chilean directors and will debut the showcase El Mundo Extraño, which focuses on horror and sci-fi genres. (KPBS)

• The “Art Labs” are the engaging tentacles of local flavor extending from the annual commercial Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair. Organizers launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to raise $25,000 to fund at least 15 such art projects, which have been unpaid projects in past years.

• It’s free to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego if you’re 25 years old or younger, and the museum announced this week that the program will continue.

Local Stages

• I love reading Welton Jones’ reviews of local plays, especially when he turns phrases like “the water fight of brother, suitor and pastor in their woodland wild, a romp of bare butts and banjo rhythms.” Jones gives a thumbs-up to The Old Globe’s “A Room with a View,” which had its world premiere over the weekend. (

• Theater troupe Circle Circle dot dot has a new play coming soon inspired by stories from the local drag community. One of the company’s leaders, Katie Harroff, says she finds it easier to write a play founded on interviews and exploration of a community like this rather than “pulling a story out of yourself.” (Words Are Not Enough)

• The Ché Café, which the U-T characterized as a “ramshackle venue and counterculture haven,” will be saved. The venue was slated to close if organizers couldn’t raise $12,000 to cover its insurance.

• For a play opening this weekend at Ion Theatre, a cast of 10 humans joins five robots. Angela Carone visited the makeshift robot lab to see the theater’s automated stars being made. (KPBS)

• San Diego Repertory Theatre will stage the world premiere of “Tortilla Curtain,” a satirical play based on a 1994 novel looking at immigration and life in the border region. Says the Rep’s artistic chief, Sam Woodhouse: “We have a big, prosperous, churning country — the richest in the world. Who has the right to share in that? And who has the right to say who can share in that?” The play opens for previews Saturday. (U-T)

• John Eger, a proponent and scholar of mixing arts and education, went to Tijuana over the weekend and hypothesizes about art’s ability to bridge the two border cities. (Huffington Post)

Local Roots

• A 16-year-old from Chula Vista is a finalist on American Idol. (North County Times)

• An art show celebrating women is up at The Front, a venue sponsored by Casa Familiar in San Ysidro. A conversation on KPBS this week included the show’s curator, a featured artist and CityBeat arts editor Kinsee Morlan. All three said they sense an imbalance of male and female artists included in shows in San Diego.

• Local restaurateur Tracy Borkum has fielded so many requests from diners wishing to buy the chairs, light fixtures and art at her Cucina Urbana restaurant in Bankers Hill that she’s selling the fixings — some made by San Diego County artisans — through her Cucina Enoteca spot in Irvine. (LAT)

• A profile of local hip-hop artist Orko Eloheim explores the groundwork he laid for the underground hip-hop scene in San Diego. (CityBeat)

“The train tracks that I laid, I’m just happy I did that for my brethren,” he says. “The idea was never to have them under my umbrella at all. I was just the one coming with the mission statement.”

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Allie Daugherty contributed to this Arts Report.

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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