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Residents of Lincoln Park in southeastern San Diego could’ve chosen another mural or a beautifying project to fulfill the San Diego Museum of Art’s current focus on their neighborhood.

But the community had something weightier in mind, as the museum’s project leader Irma Esquivias described at our “Meeting of the Minds” last week. They’ve drawn up plans with artists to try to counteract a key neighborhood intersection’s reputation as the “Four Corners of Death.”

Esquivias joined five wide-ranging speakers discussing the origins of local brewing, San Diego’s “mutant punk” experiments, a homegrown set designer and more.

Their passion was clear.

“We do this art because we love it, not because people tell us, ‘You’re dope, you’re dope, here’s some money,’” said hip-hop choreographer and instructor Melissa Adao.

You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.

Happening Here

• A La Jolla gallery owner pepper-sprayed a gunman attempting to rob his shop last week. (U-T)

Among the nominees for San Diego’s best and worst architecture — the Orchids and Onions awards — are two local restaurants, Polite Provisions and the Stone Brewing Co. new location in Point Loma. You can see the whole list and vote for your picks for a couple more days. (Eater)

• Jeffrey Davis manages a library in San Diego and makes the case for libraries’ continued relevance in a commentary for VOSD.

• The Ramona Library has been open unofficially since 1894 and is currently celebrating a century as part of the county’s library system. (Patch)

• A North Park man saw a sculpture of a woman at Burning Man this year and hopes to bring it to town as a way to help the city “heal” from the recent turmoil stemming from allegations of sexual harassment against former Mayor Bob Filner. (San Diego Gay and Lesbian News)

• Hip-hop institution Culture Shock Dance Center will celebrate its 10th anniversary this weekend by offering 20 free dance classes.

• U-T music critic James Chute raved about flutist (and Leucadia native) Claire Chase’s performances at the Carlsbad Music Festival this weekend.

• A local designer posted photos of one of the county’s several “Park(ing) Day” installations, in the Gaslamp Quarter. The event encourages people to set up a “park” in place of a parking spot on the street. The gallery features interim Mayor Todd Gloria playing a round of cornhole.

Made in San Diego

• Artist Bret Barrett collects a ton of stuff — “toys, knick-knacks, magazines” — that may make it into one of his collages one day. Then he dumps out the basket and often uses that serendipitous formation to guide the way the piece comes together. (CityBeat)

• The Wall Street Journal tours the contemporary art featured in the country’s airports, including San Diego’s new $2.2 million piece, “The Journey” — “a ribbon of 38,000 LED lights that has images of people swimming, dancing and walking, plus birds in flight, fluttering throughout the sculpture.”

• Born and raised in Golden Hill, Thom Stansell has spent “the better part of his life in the circus,” the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.

• Playwright Josefina Lopez confronts a disparity between the stories she tries to tell onstage and the experiences of the people who can often afford to go. From an interview with KPBS:

“You know the tragedy of professional theaters is that people like me never felt like I could go to the theater because I never saw people like me on the stage,” Lopez said, “And then I couldn’t afford to go, you think about like wow, $72 for the worst seat in the house you’re like “Wow, do I eat or do I go to the theater? Do I feed my soul or do I feed my body?’

• One of the county’s most iconic public art pieces, Queen Calafia sculpture garden in Escondido by French artist Niki de Saint Phaelle, will reopen this winter after a six-month closure. The city and a foundation for the artist’s estate will each put $25,000 into restoring the park. An art consultant from the Getty Foundation faulted the city for the disrepair — “the garden had suffered from neglect, the use of recycled sewer water to clean the sculptures and malfunctioning security cameras.” But a city planner blamed vandalism and normal wear-and-tear. (U-T)

• Artist Elizabeth Washburn couldn’t imagine getting along with people in the military. “I grew up in a household that did not include any military service,” Washburn told a defense news service. “Pretty much until 9/11 and the ensuing wars, I had never given much thought about the military and had a very stereotypical view of those in the service. I didn’t think they were very smart, were rigid, conservative and not anyone I would be overly interested in knowing.”

Her views have changed significantly since beginning to teach art classes to combat veterans. A show of their work is on display at the Southwestern University gallery. (DVIDS)

• A San Diego author’s sci-fi debut is garnering him some national buzz. (U-T)

• UC San Diego music composer Roger Reynolds has been immersing himself in the writings of George Washington to compose a symphony inspired by the president. The piece will open the season for the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. From the U-T:

“What I’m trying to do on this piece is not to tell a story, but to allow everybody, including myself, to enter into some kind of imagined, Washingtonian world,” said the Pulitzer-prize winning composer. “When he got up in the morning and rode before sunrise, what did he think? What did he see? What did he feel?”

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Kelly Bennett

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

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