Two artists who’ve had recent tussles over their public artworks appeared on NBC 7 San Diego’s “Politically Speaking” show this weekend. I joined the discussion in a later segment.

We’ve covered the behind-the-scenes process for Roberto Salas’s “Night Visions” series of sculptures along Park Boulevard. In the fall, the city floated the idea of de-installing that series because of how weathered and damaged its components have become. Those pieces were never meant to be up longer than a decade — but they’ve been up for more than 20 years. Recently the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture voted to save the pieces and now they’ll be put in the queue for restoration.

Across town at the airport, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is considering a new artwork for the wall that used to hold a mural depicting Charles Lindbergh, a piece John and Jeanne Whalen put up in 1997.

Salas and John Whalen appeared with Gene Cubbison to talk about the process of making art when your boss is a public agency.

I joined the discussion with representatives from the airport and city. I mentioned that these public art commissions often represent some of the biggest opportunities an artist has to create giant sculptures or murals and have the materials and their time paid for.

Disagreement over the price and aesthetics of public art is nothing new in San Diego, a point we discussed in the next segment.

Here’s a bit more on the history of public art controversies in San Diego, and more on some current ones like the “wings” and the “kiss” statues, both envisioned for the waterfront. The latter, known properly as “Unconditional Surrender,” was formally installed this past weekend.

I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531.

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

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