Our two-part look at an intersection of art, beer and San Diego history drew lots of responses from folks like local high school teacher Roberto Rodriguez. Rodriguez summed up the stories’ significance simply: “It’s our history and culture.”

My partner from KPBS, Angela Carone, and I shared the overview of the old murals and furniture saved out of the Aztec Brewery’s tasting room with Maureen Cavanaugh on Midday Edition on Wednesday and the Evening Edition television show Friday. And man-about-town Ken Kramer interviewed me for his “About San Diego” piece for NBC 7 San Diego.

We also posted Spanish versions of the two parts: La primera parte and la segunda parte.

The blogger at “The Beer Rover” posted his perspective this morning: “I wonder whether Aztec’s beers were any good. Even drinking a crappy beer would have been fun in a place like Aztec’s rathskeller.”

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

On Local Stages

• New plays written by a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old are getting full productions in the Playwrights Project festival, an annual chance for young playwrights to see their work honed, staged and directed by theater professionals. For the first time this year, plays written by writers aged 55 and older are being staged alongside the teens’. (U-T San Diego)

• A rundown of what’s on local stages includes two plays about uneasy relationships and a one-man show in the voice of Henry David Thoreau. (CityBeat)

• Lamb’s Players Theatre extended (again!) its popular “miXtape” revue of 80s music. The production has been running since August 2010 at the Horton Grand. (U-T)

• Pat Launer lifts the curtain on “Hands on a Hardbody,” the musical premiering this weekend at the La Jolla Playhouse. She starts with the name: It’s not what you’re thinking, she says. “The ‘hardbody’ in question is actually a truck. And the hands all over it belong to contestants in a bid to win the vehicle by hanging on for as long as possible. The pickup goes to the last one standing.” (Encinitas Patch)

• NBC’s Sound Diego team caught up with Phish frontman Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, who composed the music for that musical. “The songs always have to serve the story or reveal something about the characters, so there’s a very definite purpose to the songs,” Green said. (NBC 7 San Diego)

• And the U-T’s James Hebert asked Anastasio what drew him to this story — based on a 1997 documentary of a real contest for a truck — to begin with. Here’s Anastasio:

“What attracted me to it is that it’s such an American story. It feels very relevant and it feels very timely. That’s the most exciting thing to me, that these people are so real, and their struggles are so real. A lot of their issues are the issues of the country.”

• Comic artist Eric Shanower lent his sketching skills to the rehearsals for “The Barber of Seville,” which opened Saturday at San Diego Opera. (Aria Serious? blog)

• Meanwhile, the U-T’s James Chute checked out the opera’s opening night and found “Barber” entertaining and “whimsical.”

• San Diego Opera’s latest video podcast walks through next year’s opera season, which will include a mariachi opera and the U.S. premiere of “Murder in the Cathedral,” based on a T.S. Eliot drama.

The opera’s general director, Ian Campbell, told the U-T San Diego he’s been waiting more than 30 years to stage that piece.

• Sweet medium: A candy sculptor will demonstrate his ancient sugar art (the Japanese “amezaiku”) at the Vista Buddhist Temple’s spring festival this weekend. (North County Times)

Happening Here

• Which of the six artworks do you think the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego should buy? You can look at photographs, read descriptions and vote for your pick on the U-T San Diego through 11 tonight, and then find out how your choices compare to what the museum’s collectors choose.

• Not wishing to stay in what can seem like a bubble in Rancho Santa Fe, Susan Madden Lankford photographs populations on the fringes, including women in prison and people who are homeless. Her husband is a prominent local real estate developer.

“This beautiful creation called Rancho Santa Fe, it was just too safe and too secure,” Lankford said. “… And I had to find out about all the other people who live among us.” (U-T)

• In her paintings, artist Jean Lowe juxtaposes ceilings that look like they’re from cathedrals or museums with rows of retail shelves stocked with bulk products, and then she sculpts artificial versions of those products. La Jolla’s Quint Gallery opened a new exhibition of Lowe’s work this weekend. (CityBeat)

We saw some of Lowe’s work when we visited the home and studio she shares with her husband, artist Kim MacConnel.

• The mayor’s annual ode to local arts happened last week in front of a giant dinosaur skeleton at the Natural History Museum. The city’s Commission for Arts and Culture every year tallies the amount of money spent in the local economy by organizations that get city arts grants. Last year, those 68 groups received nearly $6 million in grants, and spent about $170 million on staff salaries and other expenses. (Mayor’s Office)

A San Diego Watercolor Society member wrote us a letter saying the city’s grant program spurred the society to add watercolor classes at local afterschool programs and senior centers.

• The Bach Collegium San Diego ensemble is heading to South America on the U.S. Embassy’s dime to perform four concerts at “historic missions in the depths of the Bolivian jungle.” The ensemble’s known for performing centuries-old music the way it might’ve been performed at the time.

• Artist Sheryl Oring is set to arrive in San Diego this week to begin her three-month stay as artist-in-residence to figure out the art she’ll make for the airport. One of her projects was during the 2008 presidential campaign, where she dressed up like a 1960s secretary and traveled across the country to type out dictated postcards addressed to the president-to-be. (San Diego Reader)

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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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