Big news in the Balboa Park saga this week: A judge tentatively ruled the city broke its own laws in approving the remodel plan for the park’s western entrance and central Plaza de Panama. The plaza fronts many of the park’s major cultural institutions and museums.

At issue: whether the Plaza de Panama would have a “reasonable beneficial use” even if the city didn’t approve the plan. The judge says the parking lot there now counts. The remodel plan would divert traffic away from the plaza, over a new bridge, to clear out the plaza for pedestrians.

The judge’s inclination is a blow to the plan’s proponents, including former Mayor Jerry Sanders and a group of philanthropists led by Irwin Jacobs. Opponents from the preservation group Save Our Heritage Organisation thought the plan would damage the park’s historic character and sued. The two sides will meet in court Friday.

For more on the judge’s ruling, here’s my post.

Photo by Sam Hodgson.

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

Happening Here

• It’s Daniel Jackson Week in the city of San Diego. Jackson’s a local jazz gem, and Angela Carone stopped by his house in southeastern San Diego — where the 76-year-old still lives. Jackson said he first heard the saxophone in that very living room in the 1940s. His brother’s friend played. From Carone’s KPBS story:

Jackson would hide around the corner and listen. “I heard that tenor saxophone and I was like ‘That’s it!’” shouts Jackson. “That’s where I want to be for the rest of my life is on that sound.”

• Local jazz fan D.A. Kolodenko introduced us to Jackson and other San Diego jazz notables in his “Meeting of the Minds” presentation last February.

• A new round of funding for individual artists has a deadline of Feb. 27. The San Diego Foundation announced it’s looking for artists and projects to award its second batch of grants in the Creative Catalyst Fund.

• The San Diego Opera opened its season over the weekend with “The Daughter of the Regiment.” U-T critic James Chute found the cast “uniformly excellent.”

• Octogenarian artist James Hubbell has never had his own solo museum show — until now. A new exhibition at Oceanside Museum of Art will feature Hubbell’s sculpture work from over 50 years of his career.

Photographer Sam Hodgson and I visited Hubbell’s magical backcountry estate a couple of years ago. Here’s a taste of where the artist lives.

• The San Diego Museum of Art bought a Spanish sculpture of the guy for whom the city is named: San Diego de Alcala. The Baroque sculptor Pedro de Mena y Medrano made the piece in the 17th century. The museum bought the sculpture with part of a $7.4 million bequest. (Blouin ArtInfo)

Seeing for the First Time

• An 18-year-old playwright discovered her appetite for writing in juvenile hall. Now her play opens at the Lyceum Theatre this weekend, the County News Center reports:

“Do I regret going to juvenile hall? Yes but I learned something about myself I didn’t know was there,” said Bell. “I’m a writer. I write poetry and I write plays.”

• A San Diego native blogs for the New York Times about her online venture to educate consumers about the clothes they buy. Adriana Herrera defines her “Fashioning Change” organization as “a start-up that helps shoppers purchase stylish, money-saving, safe and sweatshop-free alternatives to top name brands.”

• National arts blogger Tyler Green stopped by San Diego in the fall to check out “Behold, America!” an exposition of American art owned by three local museums. He was a fan. Green was especially excited about the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s chance to pull out some of its permanent collection that isn’t often seen. (Modern Art Notes)

• You’ve likely seen Miki Iwasaki’s art piece, “Signalscape,” near the baggage claim in Terminal 1 at the airport. Local director Charles Bergquist made a lovely mini-documentary that includes the story behind the piece and Iwasaki’s thoughts on making art for public agencies.

• Moonlighting: A Vista physicist photographs dancers and will exhibit some of his work in Carlsbad. (U-T)

L. Ron Hubbard’s watch and millions of dollars’ worth of other science fiction memorabilia will be on display at San Diego State University. The owner of the collection, Edward Marsh, grew up in San Diego. Most of what’s in his collection was created between 1937 and the 1950s.

“I want the golden age to be preserved, and the kids today have no idea it even existed,” Marsh told the U-T. “They’ve never seen a pulp magazine with these lurid covers. And all the movies they see come from stories written by the golden age guys.”

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Kelly Bennett is a reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach her directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

Kelly Bennett

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

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