For years I’ve heard rumors about a Pacific Beach man who has quietly amassed an unparalleled collection of local mid-century art. As the local lore went, he bought so much art in the 1950s and 1960s that his collection filled almost every inch of wall inside three sizable apartments.
I always assumed the story was just too incredible to be true.
I was wrong.
Walter Pomeroy bought his first piece of art in 1956 – a large painting of acrobats by Fred Holle. An engineer with an OK salary, he kept buying art from the likes of John Baldessari, Richard Allen Morris, Guy Williams and other artists who lived in San Diego at the time. More attracted to artists than the work itself, he said he purchased art mostly to support creative people he liked. He never considered himself a “collector with a capital ‘C’” as he put it.
“I mean, it’s not just an art collection,” he said as I toured the collections. “As you see, there are thousands of CDs. There are 10,000 books downstairs. There are Swatch watches, perfume bottles – so I buy things, but they do have a cultural aspect to them. … I never intended to be an art collector, though. I just met these artists in the Spanish Village, liked them and went down there when I had some money in my pocket and bought something off the walls.”
Pomeroy, 82, said he recently started looking for new homes for some of his art. A few years ago, he invited the Oceanside Museum of Art to pick out some pieces. Mark Elliott-Lugo, the founder and curator of the San Diego Public Library’s visual art program who’s since retired, got wind of OMA’s impending acquisition and made sure he got to pick through Pomeroy’s collection first.
“So he rushed over and went through and put little orange stickers on the pieces he wanted for the city,” Pomeroy said.
Elliott-Lugo picked out 27 pieces. Those works – all by San Diego artists – are now officially part of the city of San Diego’s public art collection. They’ll be on view alongside other works from Pomeroy’s collection in a show opening Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Art Gallery on the ninth floor of the downtown Central Library. Those 27 pieces will eventually be put on permanent view in the Central Library, per Pomeroy’s request in his contract with the city.
As for the rest of Pomeroy’s artwork, which really does fill all 20 rooms of the three apartments he owns in Pacific Beach, he’s still trying to figure out what to do with it all.
“I really have no idea,” he said. “Hopefully, this show and all this publicity will get people interested in it.”
• Seth Combs wrote a longer piece on Pomeroy and the upcoming show at the Central Library in this week’s issue of CityBeat.
• The Urbanist’s Ian Anderson also has a lengthy piece about Pomeroy and his massive collection.
You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.
The Barrio Logan Renaissance Continues and Other Arts and Culture News
• Logan Avenue in Barrio Logan is becoming the epicenter of arts and culture in the growing and changing neighborhood. Designers Paul Basile and Chris Martino scooped up a building on Logan and the pair is getting ready to open a new art space. (CityBeat)
• Pacific View Elementary in Encinitas has been closed since 2003. A group’s been working to activate the empty space as an arts, culture and agricultural community space. The Encinitas Advocate reports that the Encinitas City Council has temporarily cleared the way for the group to make that happen while the city continues to work on a long-term contract.
• KPBS has the scoop on a new collection of essays by San Diego painter and film critic Manny Farber.
• The Murals of La Jolla project just mounted new artwork. The collaboration between Victoria Fu and Byron Kim can be seen on an outside wall of the Empress Hotel in La Jolla. (artdaily.org)
• San Diego Story has rounded up dance events happening this month.
• You’ll have to click through an annoying photo slideshow to get the info, but DiscoverSD has rounded up some off-menu items at a handful of local restaurants.
• Finally, someone blows the lid off the terrifying rise in adult coloring parties (Spoiler alert: coloring is actually kinda soothing). (CityBeat)
• CityBeat’s Seth Combs talks with an El Cajon fabric artist whose work often keeps her on the outskirts of both the craft and the fine-arts worlds.
• KCET ArtBound focuses on Tijuana photographer Photographer Ingrid Hernández and her work documenting self-constructed homes and living spaces. Artbound also profiles Collective Magpie, a duo of artists whose art involves getting big groups of people to participate.
• The San Diego Union-Tribune reviews a small exhibition of photographs by Sebastião Salgado currently showing at the San Diego Museum of Art.
• Children’s toys take center stage in Balboa Park. (KPBS)
• I live in Lemon Grove, which means, yes, I have already tried Coop’s new chicken and waffle joint that just opened up next door to the barbecue restaurant. (Eater San Diego)
• Someone finally counted the number of breweries in San Diego county so I can stop answering people with “I don’t know, like, a million” when they ask. (West Coaster)
Get Cultured: Things to Do in San Diego This Week
• Casa Familiar’s The Front opens its ninth annual “Dia de la Mujer” juried exhibition this Thursday with a reception featuring a performance by Tijuana’s Madame Ur y sus Hombres.
• Drink local craft beer, get a behind-the-scenes tour of the San Diego Museum of Art and make an art project of your own.
• Saturday through Sunday, California Ballet Company presents Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
• The Indian Music and Dance Festival is happening this week.
• Chula Vista invites foodies to its annual Taste of Third event from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
• This new(ish) Little Italy gallery wants to tell you more about the paintings it’s showing.
• Cassette tapes are back. The San Diego Art Institute is releasing an album featuring bands that’ve played in the museum via a downloadable album and limited-edition cassette tapes. The launch party for the new album is Friday.
• La Jolla Symphony & Chorus presents a melodramatic concert called “Soundscape San Diego.”
• San Diego choreographer Michael Mizerany directs this musical comedy about a fictitious Christian boy-band on the last night of their national tour.
• See 36 flags from the West African country of Ghana at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park.
• Imagine a building filled with thousands of orchids. The San Diego County Orchid Society’s spring show and sale is March 11-13.
• The abstract paintings of Tara Ralls will be translated into original music by cellist Erdis Maxhelaku.
• Doug Simay leads a tour through the exhibition of works by Marjorie Nodelman that he curated for the Oceanside Museum of Art.
• Bankers Hill restaurants come together in this annual neighborhood event.
• Nicole Deline and John Cortese make furniture. See some of it at a show opening in Barrio Logan Thursday night.
• Artist-made vinyl toys will be showing at a North Park ice cream shop.
• Art and science collide in the Brushes and Beakers event. Speaking of science, The San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering continues through March 13 and includes all kinds of events, like this one featuring scientists answering your burning questions at a local brewery.
• The vintage clothing outlet Shop Gypsy Eyes will hold a pop-up shop event at La Loupe Vintage.
• Local architecture firm Miller Hull presents the inaugural Miller Hull San Diego Art Program this week. The firm says the event will be the first in an ongoing series highlighting local and regional artists and it’ll focus on the convergence of art and design.
• It’s your last chance to see the artworks by Tom Driscoll, Tim McCormick, Bhavna Mehta and others that’s hanging for a few more days at a South Park restaurant and wine bar.
• It just wouldn’t be right if we went a week in San Diego without having a big beer festival.
• See new art by Matthew Agcolicol.
• Pop-up art outfit, Wonka Gallery, is teaming up with Citizen Brewer, a brew-on-premises facility, for an arts show celebrating the “community spirit of the local brewing and art scene.”
• New works by pop surrealist painter Kelly Vivanco will be on view in a solo show opening in Escondido.
• The folks behind The Story Collider podcast are coming to San Diego at 7 p.m. Saturday to tell true personal stories about science and engineering.
• The Five Chef Societe beer-and-dinner pairing event is back.
• Artist Jason Gould and an artist known as kurznachzeh collaborate to create these paintings that’ll be showing in a one-night show in East Village.
• A La Jolla gallery opens a solo show featuring works by Los Angeles artist Cory Bennett.
• Adrián Arancibia, a founder of the famed Taco Shop Poets, will read at the ongoing Red Poets Society series in Golden Hill.
• Folks will be making fun of TEDx talks at Whistle Stop bar in South Park Wednesday night.
• Vegetarians and animal-rights activists should not click this link.
• Literary performance group Write Out Louds celebrates Irish tales.
• CityBeat’s Burger Week event is in full swing.
• Alphonso Johnson, who plays electric and upright bass, performs at the Museum of Making Music.
• Mainly Mozart’s got a few concerts going on this week.
• Meyer Fine Art opens a show featuring works by modernist Clay Walker.
• Broadway San Diego brings “The Wizard of Oz” to town.
• Hear a program of commissioned works by female composers.
• Young dance choreographers compete for cash prizes.
• Free opera, ya’ll.
• The San Diego Early Music Society presents Baltimore Consort performing songs marking the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare.
• The annual Mariachi Festival & Competition is happening in National City.
• The San Diego Really Really Free Market is actually and for-real free. Folks can bring things for trade or just show up for free stuff.
• The big annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival is happening at Balboa Park Saturday.
• Play Frisbee with a robot at this kid-centered event in San Marcos.
• The San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering continues through March 13 and includes lots of kid-friendly educational events.
• Pan for gold and otherwise relive the Gold Rush glory days at this Maritime Museum event.
• BabyFest sounds intense.
• Spreckels Organ Family Festival Day is Sunday at 2 p.m. in Balboa Park.