A quirky new bookstore and alternative arts center in Carlsbad is fighting to keep its doors open. Sean Christopher, who opened Lhooq/exrealism in January, had to temporarily close after the city of Carlsbad received a zoning complaint and opened a code-violation case. That case also prompted the city to refuse to renew Christopher’s business license.

The shop has since reopened, but Christopher has until the end of September to provide the city with proof that the old wooden garage housing the bookstore was used as a commercial space before 1992.

Will Foss, building division manager for the city of Carlsbad, says 1992 is the benchmark because it’s the year the city did a survey designating all the homes and former-homes-turned-businesses in the rapidly changing Carlsbad Village area as either residential or commercial. Foss says if Christopher can prove the garage was used as a commercial space before ’92, the city can officially grandfather it in. For now, though, the building at at 755 1/2 Carlsbad Village Drive isn’t zoned for a business.

“We’re trying to help him out and be creative,” Foss said. “But at the same time, he has the obligation to provide us with some kind of proof or evidence.”

And so Christopher’s quest to find historical evidence began. I visited Lhooq/Exrealism over the weekend to see how it was going. He talked about his zoning issues as the bookstore’s resident artist, Kris Markovich, experimented with fusing glass in the back patio behind the bookstore. Surrounded by dozens of the paintings and other work he’s created during his residency at the bookstore, Markovick entertained the patrons trickling in and out of the shop.

Christopher says his neighbors are writing him detailed letters about how the space was once a paint shop, real-estate office and other businesses over the past several decades. Plus, he says he’s working on getting the property management company that leased the space for over 30 years to provide paperwork showing the building’s commercial use.

“I put everything into this place,” Christopher said. ” I threw a Hail Mary by opening it. … I’m cautiously optimistic at this point that things will work out. The city knows I’ve got the community support, so I’m hoping that’s going to help.”

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

Photo by Kathleen Mitchell
Photo by Kathleen Mitchell

Culture Report Is Back, but UCSD Crafts Center Is Gone

• After just a few weeks on hiatus, the Culture Report is officially back. (Cue the thunderous applause.) I wrote the report for a short time a few years ago. I’m beyond happy to be back at the helm and on-staff here at Voice of San Diego as the new engagement editor. I’ve been writing about arts and culture in San Diego for over a decade, but I still need help keeping tabs on everything. Email me your story ideas and tips, chat with me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram or join this online arts group I moderate.

• After 40 years of operation, the UCSD Crafts Center was shut down on Sept. 26, 2012. The university cited funding shortfalls and indicated it would reopen after new funding streams were explored and the center underwent badly needed renovations. Last week, a video of the demolition of the Crafts Center was circulated on Facebook. While UCSD released a statement saying the demolition was necessary due to the presence of hazardous materials and “the campus is currently in discussions with community members regarding the potential development of a new craft center,” Michelle Kurtis Cole and others who commented on the video say they’re mad and suspicious.

From Facebook:

“The whole thing is disgusting,” says Cole, who started the Glass Kiln Forming department at UCSD. “The Crafts Center was important to the university students, faculty, staff, as well as the community. Also, what happened to all of the expensive equipment? My students donated money to buy the brand new large kiln and many other tools and moving parts for the Kiln-forming studio. If they are still ‘talking about rebuilding,’ where are they storing all of the equipment?”

Photo by Carly Ealey
Photo by Carly Ealey

New Theater Company, So Many Murals and More Artsy Bits

• There’s a new theater company in town, and its debut production is getting rave reviews. (CityBeat/Times of San Diego)

Experimental arts and music venue A Ship  in the Woods was housed in a leased home in Del Mar. The owners of that house want to tear it down so they can build their dream home. One of the space’s founders, RJ Brooks, says he’s got some good news. They just closed escrow on a new permanent location, although he’s not ready to disclose all the details just yet. Here’s what he told me in an email:

“We have found a very special place to continue in the footsteps of our much beloved mid-century house in Del Mar and are looking forward to continuing our residency program and events. While we begin the process of transitioning into our new digs, we will continue hosting shows around town and have a few upcoming events in the works that we are super excited about, so stay tuned.”

• Prolific painter Christopher Konecki is in the midst of painting what just might be the city’s largest mural. Commissioned by Emmes Realty, the mural will cover the entire outside rotunda of the parking garage at 707 Broadway.

• Speaking of murals, new ones have popped up here, here and here. (Union-Tribune)

• Alex Zaragoza, the sassy arts maven who formerly wrote the Culture Report, wrote a moving piece about deported parents who made picture books for their children living on the other side of the border. (CityBeat)

• The new deputy director of curatorial affairs at the San Diego Museum of Art wants a more open museum. Meanwhile, San Diego Musical Theatre’s new hire is building up the organization’s education program. (Union-Tribune)

• Noel-Baza Fine Art closed its brick-and-mortar location last year. For months, the arts space has been running a pop-up gallery inside the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. On Sept. 7, that pop-up journey will end and the duo behind the gallery will open again with a show by Kim Reasor at Art Produce Gallery in early November.

Get Cultured: Three to See

• The Front gallery in San Ysidro doesn’t open much since suffering big budget cuts last year, so when there is a show, it’s a good idea to go. “Looming opens Saturday.

• Psychedelic painter Kelsey Brookes has a new book. He’ll be signing it at Quint Contemporary Art on Saturday.

• Been to the shiny new art gallery at City College? Thursday’s opening would be a good time to go.

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Kinsee Morlan was formerly the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. She also managed VOSD’s podcasts and covered...

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