After retiring as an engineer, Ruth Hayward took up sculpting. She detailed her research into a few Balboa Park forebears, whose likenesses she sculpted in bronze near the western entrance to the park, at our recent Meeting of the Minds event.

We have video from Hayward’s presentation, as well as the one from Tijuana resident Marcos Espinosa, who plays percussion with the San Diego Youth Symphony. And we have a presentation from Ranger Kim Duclo, who drew our attention to sculptures, fountains, trees and architecture in the park that have counterparts elsewhere in Southern California.

That about wraps up this round of reporting on Balboa Park. Next up, I’ll be diving into another intriguing topic connected to San Diego’s culture: homelessness. You can read more about the beginning of that effort and what to expect from me. Please tell me: What do you want to know?

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

Doors Closing, For Now or For Good

• Local chamber group Orchestra Nova filed for bankruptcy, it announced Friday. The ensemble’s CEO tied the bankruptcy to the difficulties negotiating with the ensemble’s unionized musicians earlier this fall, after which the organization canceled its season. (Orchestra Nova statement)

• Two artist-run galleries, Double Break and ICE, are closing their doors. (Sezio)

• The future is uncertain for downtown live music venue 4th and B because of a financial and legal battle. I’d never known this bit from the venue’s early days: “4th & B, a former First Interstate Bank building, opened its doors Nov. 30, 1995, with a sold-out show by Crosby, Stills & Nash,” according to the U-T.

• Anthology, the Littly Italy jazz venue and supper club, is closing temporarily next month for renovations and repairs. A prominent booking agent tells the U-T the venue is “in the upper echelon” for jazz spots around the country.

• The 90-year-old owner of San Diego’s oldest indoor theater, Spreckels, talked with the U-T about renovating the gem, which turns 100 this year.

Local Roots

• Arthur Wagner was the founding chairman of UC San Diego’s drama department when it began in the 1970s. Now he and his wife, Molli, are donating $2.2 million to boost the school’s theater budget. They’re alarmed by the university’s cuts to funding. The school shares facilities and staff with the La Jolla Playhouse, a separate nonprofit.

“It’s a key crossroads for a department that has produced a long list of theater luminaries and prides itself on being regarded as one of the top three theater-training programs in the nation, alongside those of Yale and New York University,” writes James Hebert for U-T San Diego.

• Prominent local restaurateur Jay Porter is moving to the Bay Area. (Porter was one of our speakers at the very first Meeting of the Minds.)

Porter will keep his restaurants here, The Linkery and El Take It Easy, but hopes to open a new project in San Francisco. Candice Woo, who writes for the Eater San Diego blog, asked him what the local food scene has to do to keep people from leaving. Here’s how Porter responded:

Oh, that’s such a big topic, it’s all about making the city better in quality-of-life ways, and not all that many people here are ready to talk about that yet. …

That noted, there’s a well-known and proven path to restoring health to our city: it’s all about narrower streets, taller buildings, higher density, no more office campuses on the outskirts of town, building segregated bike infrastructure, less automotive parking, greatly expanded public transit, and form-based zoning codes. None of this is revolutionary, everyone who’s looked at what makes cities work has come to the same conclusions. It’s just a matter of having the will to be awesome, which I think San Diego is still a ways from developing. But it will come in time. The alternative has no future, so the best choices will happen as a kind of default.

• CityBeat rounds up lists of intriguing, quirky local holiday gift ideas and nontraditional fairs and events where you can buy things directly from local craftspeople and retailers.

• Art about a library, in a library: Artist Mathieu Gregoire has a show of drawings, photographs and objects that are inspired by the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla, on display at the library itself. The show is up at the Athenaeum through Dec. 29. In addition to being an artist himself, he works with the UC San Diego public art collection, the Stuart Collection.

• A man from La Mesa reeled in a 445-pound, seven-foot yellowfin tuna off the coast of Mexico. He “expected a big fish,” he said. “Instead, I caught the biggest fish.” It won’t count as a record because the boat’s captain held the rod twice while the fisherman was reeling in the fish. (10News)

• Speaking of big, the largest exhibition of San Diego and Tijuana artists in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s history is now up.

Museum director Hugh Davies told the U-T he thinks the museum should err on the side of supporting and nurturing local artists.

“Every museum of contemporary art has this balancing act,” Davies told the U-T. “How much do you deal with, acknowledge, recognize, your local art community at the risk of becoming provincial and navel gazing? And how much do you bring in work from around the world that makes you cosmopolitan and makes you part of an international dialogue about art?”

• As a panel member reviewing applications for city arts funding this year, blogger Shawnee Barton noticed a “startling lack of artists on the governing boards of non-profit art organizations (big and small) in San Diego.” (U-T)

• The architect behind the expansion of Tijuana’s Cultural Center, Eugenio Velazquez, was sentenced Monday to six months in prison and another six months in detention at home for smuggling cocaine across the border. His sentence was more lenient than the typical minimum 10 years because the government confirmed his story that he was threatened into doing it by a former client. A 23-year-old tenor pleaded guilty to smuggling methamphetamines last month and was sentenced to at least four-and-a-half years. (U-T)

• The composer of the “Rocky” score, Bill Conti, will conduct San Diego Symphony’s pops concerts next year. (KPBS)

• A local artist is offering free art classes for kids in two locations. (U-T)

• An “autism-friendly” showing of The Old Globe’s holiday hit, “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is set for Saturday. Among special considerations: The theater won’t be quite as dark as usual, special fog effects won’t happen and audience members can come and go from their seats during the performance. (U-T)

• Professor Ricardo Dominguez’s yearlong “Drones at Home” exhibition at UC San Diego included a website from the “UC Center for Drone Policy and Ethics” with a staged photo that made it look like a drone had crashed near the library. (NBC7 San Diego)

The official-looking website snagged a mention on the popular blog BoingBoing: “Relax, everyone, it’s an art-hoax.”

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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 is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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