You’re reading the last Culture Report — for now. We’re taking a break to refocus and figure out how best Voice of San Diego can add value to local arts coverage. Got ideas? Send a note to Managing Editor Sara Libby.


San Diego’s arts and culture scene is spectacularly interesting, diverse and layered.

Yes, we mostly hear about the large museum exhibition openings or funding going toward major institutions, there’s also a thriving alternative scene filled with small galleries. That’s where you’ll find emerging artists, experimental works that challenge expectations, neighborhoods that foster creative output from residents and organizations imagining fresh ways to engage in the arts. Woven throughout, you’ll find some great collaborations.

I’ve been lucky enough to report on the rad people, places and projects that make San Diego’s arts scene special. At Voice of San Diego, I’ve been mostly sharing those stories in the Cultural Report. The Culture Report is going on hiatus. I’ll still be contributing arts reporting to VOSD, however.

For my last report, I asked some of San Diego’s biggest arts cheerleaders to tell me the most exciting thing happening in arts and culture in the city now, and what they see coming in the future.

Here’s what they had to say:

“I think the Creative Catalyst Fund is creating some of the most exciting arts projects in San Diego. They just committed to three more years of funding projects. What they do is as close as as it ever comes to putting money in the hands of the artists to create something exciting, which is awesome because that never happens. They’re providing artists with the resources to do really awesome stuff, and it’s not only visual art. It’s performance art and dance. You give an artist $5,000 and they do amazing stuff. You give them $20,000 and your jaw will drop.”

– Kinsee Morlan, arts editor at San Diego CityBeat and former Culture Report writer

“Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ is our theme song. Talented people leave, galleries move or close, Facebook blows up … we’ll keep cruising. Ginger Shulick Porcella shook off the haters and has been packing in the crowds at San Diego Art Institute. (Disclosure from Susan: I provided curatorial advice to SDAI’s latest artists-in-residence.) Barrio Logan is determined to be an arts destination without gentrification, Space4Art continues to plan for a permanent home, and SDSU’s Downtown Gallery is rolling with Chantel Paul as coordinator. I’m looking forward to the Athenaeum‘s juried exhibition next month, Medium Festival of Photography in the fall and for someone to figure out how to reinvent arts criticism. Lots of people are talking about the idea – let’s make it happen.”

– Susan Myrland, independent curator and writer

“I feel like on the curators/directors’ end, there’s been a lot more collaboration. I’m seeing a lot of untraditional partnerships blossom, and personally feel that this cross-pollination between curators, galleries, institutions etc. is pretty damn exciting. At least for my job it is. On another (related) note, there’s a Latina-owned contemporary art gallery in La Jolla, Monarch Arredon Fine Art, owned and operated by Elsie Arredondo. She’s out to redefine what we expect of commercial galleries by actually engaging the community. I’m definitely looking forward to being a part of that.”

– Leticia Gomez Franco, director of programs at the New Americans Museum

“I think the amount of networking and resources-sharing happening between arts professionals across disciplines in really exciting. Groups like the Rising Arts Leaders and more informally Drinking About Museums are creating opportunities for people to get out of their professional silos and cross-pollinate. Sure, collaboration is a long road, and we have miles to go in San Diego, but progress moves at the speed of trust and I think a lot of cultural organizations are realizing we serve our communities more effectively by turning outward.”

– Kara West, library arts and culture exhibitions manager at the San Diego Public Library

“Summer is always slow in San Diego arts and music, but I am looking forward to the Carlsbad Music Festival. There’s always a wide swath of contemporary classical, post-minimalist and experimental music, and an even coverage of local and national artists. As for the future, Sam Lopez (of monthly music series Stay Strange) and Bonnie Wright (of Fresh Sound Music Series) continue to present great stuff, I am personally looking forward to a larger gallery/music interaction similar to what was happening in the 1990s.”

– Nathan Hubbard, experimental and classical musician and composer

“I think it’s great that there is continued collaboration, even with developing, shifting and changing art spaces. It’s surrounded by productive dialogue and sometimes heated debates on and offline but I’d like to think it comes from a place of caring about the art scene rather than apathy. Hopefully it encourages more artists to stay and build, plug the brain drain.”

– Paul Ecdao, co-owner of Thumbprint Gallery

“I really love what SDAI is doing these days, even if some local artists don’t. I think it’s important to mix up the talent between regions to encourage collaboration and growth among them. I also like the wonderful custom furniture and public art projects ARTS (A Reason to Survive) is instating all over National City in partnership with the community youth. Truly extraordinary and high-quality works. Not cheesy or boring — or childish.”

– Susanna Peredo, CEO and founder of Vanguard Culture

Shark Attack as Inspiration, Showing Love for Plant Life and More Visual Art Goods

Mick Fanning, the badass surfer who fought off a great white shark during a surf competition in South Africa, is the subject of a piece of street art in Cardiff. (NBC 7)

San Diego Free Press cartoonist Junco Canché will have his first solo exhibition at Border X Brewing. (San Diego Free Press)

Two artists share their love of plant life in a new exhibition at the San Diego Botanical Garden. (Encinitas Advocate)

Architectural Digest blogs about some of the incredible images on display at the San Diego Museum of Art’s Coney Island exhibition.

A new metal sculpture in Chula Vista is all about “powering the arts.” (Union-Tribune)

Linda Caballero-Sotelo works to tell immigrant stories at the New Americans Museum. (Times of San Diego)

I wrote about the importance of San Diego’s first Chicano-Con, a Latino-minded Comic-Con, for KCET ArtBound.

The expansion of the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla has been approved by reviewers. (La Jolla Light)

An Unexpected Loss and Ion Theatre’s Breather in Music and Performance News

The local music scene experienced a huge loss this week with the unexpected death of The Dragons bassist Steve Rodriguez. The Casbah will be holding a memorial show to benefit a college fund for Rodriguez’s son. (NBC 7)

Ion Theatre made a big splash in NYC. So much so that it’s taking a short breather. (Union-Tribune)

San Diego’s Biggest Sugar Daddy, New Host for ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ and More Culture Bits

Robert Mosher, the man who designed the Coronado Bridge, has passed away. (KPBS)

A new exhibition will tell the history of San Diego’s biggest sugar daddy, John D. Spreckels, and his lasting impact on the city. (Union-Tribune)

A local man is alleging Conan O’Brien is a dirty joke-thief who’s thieving his jokes. (Times of San Diego)

“A Prairie Home Companion” is getting a dose of San Diego with its new host. (KPBS)

Dr. Seuss’ first book in 25 years was just released and UC San Diego is ready to celebrate. (KPBS)

KPBS asks local authors for their two cents on the changing world of publishing.

Alex Zaragoza

Alex Zaragoza is a freelance writer covering arts and culture in San Diego and Tijuana. She also writes the column "There...

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