A Ship in the Woods has quickly made a name for itself as one of the most exciting new arts ventures in the San Diego region.

The nonprofit arts organization was formerly located in a rented home in Del Mar. The group drew big crowds to its exhibitions that often combined art, music and science. A few years ago, though, the owners of the property decided to demolish the house, leaving A Ship in the Woods scrambling to find a new location.

It took months, but the group eventually landed in a house that borders Felicita County Park in Escondido. It purchased the property this time, so the new house and surrounding two acres of land will act as a venue for experimental art and music for the foreseeable future.

Lianne Thompson Mueller, A Ship in the Woods curator and one of its co-executive directors, said the group is opening the new space this Saturday with a bang. The group has lined up a multimedia showcase that will feature works by 26 artists.

While folks can expect to see some traditional paintings and sculptures inside the house, a handful of artists in the show are creating site-specific interactive installations in the woods surrounding the home. Much of the property will be put to use at the show – there will even be a synchronized swimming performance in the pool by a group called San Dieguito Synchro at 6 p.m.

Mueller said the goal of the space is to encourage a cross-pollination of disciplines by cultivating relationships between artists, scientists, historians, politicians and other community members.

“We think of ourselves as a vessel for culture capital,” Mueller said. “Basically, we just hope the shows encourage creative thinkers to have a dialogue and make connections.”

A Ship in the Woods’ opening show will be up for a month and available for viewing by appointment.

Mueller said she didn’t want to divulge too many details about what people will see as they wander through the wooded paths surrounding the house. She did say that a group called The League of Imaginary Scientists will be doing an audience-participation piece that involves pill bugs and a piano, and artist Wendell Kling will be doing an interactive outdoor performance based on the idea of making celebratory toasts.

“There’s definitely going to be a sense of exploration here,” she said.

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

Where’s San Diego’s Public Art?

The city of San Diego owns about 500 works of art. So when I first looked through the confusing 58 pages documenting the city’s collection that I requested, I thought making a digital map with all the information would take months.

Enter Tristan Loper, VOSD’s digital manager, who visualized the data in just a few weeks . Here’s the map of San Diego’s public art he made and my story putting it into context.

Photo by Tristan Loper
Photo by Tristan Loper

We’ve already received a handful of emails asking us to add a piece of art or make an adjustment. Please keep those coming by emailing me at kinsee@vosd.org. We want the map to be as complete and accurate as possible. It’s important to understand, though, that the art on the map is just work in the official civic collection; it doesn’t include artwork owned by the county, universities, the Port of San Diego and other entities.

We’ll soon be putting out a call for folks to send us photos of San Diego’s public art so we can add them to the map in coming weeks. If you want to get a jump on that, please email me your public art photos (please include your full name so we can credit you, as well as the address of the artwork).

I’m digging the discussion already happening in the comments section. Glenn Younger picked up on a point I think is important:

“The idea that the map shows a bias by the city as to where they place their art is just silly,” he wrote. “The city Commission for Art and Culture does have some money and is looking to use it wisely.”

As I explained in the story, the reason art is clustered in some areas and sparse in others has to do with where it comes from and how it was funded. A lot of the work is donated and then placed in city-owned or city-controlled property. If the city doesn’t own property in certain neighborhoods, there’s no place to put the donated work. Also, a growing number of the public artwork is a result of the city’s percent-for-art policy. Art funded by a small percentage of new public and private development in the city has to be built on premises of the projects, so neighborhoods that don’t have new development don’t get the art that comes with it.

While there are plenty of caveats to how and why art appears in certain neighborhoods, the map does demonstrate the need for a concerted effort to ensure a more equitable distribution of art throughout San Diego’s neighborhoods. That’s something the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture, the agency in charge of public art, said it would be doing more of in the future.

The map is the first in a series of stories related to public art and where it’s located. If you have any questions, comments or ideas, please let me know.

Big Bay Ideas, Longtime Symphony Violinist Ends on a High Note and Other Arts and Culture News

The Port of San Diego has big plans for the land surrounding San Diego Bay. Learn more about the future of places like Seaport Village and the Chula Vista Bayfront at an event Thursday organized by the the nonprofit San Diego Architectural Foundation. (U-T)

From an exhibition of famous cars from movies to a big whimsical installation at the New Children’s Museum, the U-T rounded up a preview of summer exhibitions and events to add to your to-do list. KPBS’s calendar editor Nina Garin also put together a nice list of this summer’s top 20 events.

There’s a new(ish) art gallery in Mission Hills, and it’s hosting an exhibition of toy-themed works by San Diego artist Ben Darby on Saturday.

Violinist Pat Francis recently retired, but not before she earned the right to say she’s had the longest career in San Diego Symphony’s history. (U-T)

The Combat Arts San Diego nonprofit, which teaches art to post-Sept. 11 combat veterans, has partnered with the Adams Avenue Business Association and the Adams Avenue Car Wash for its new public mural project, which will be unveiled at Saturday’s big Art Around Adams event.

Two new exhibitions at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park demonstrate just how far folks are pushing photography these days. (U-T)

• The U-T put together a slideshow of the latest sculptures the city of Vista installed for its ongoing “Kites over Vista” exhibition.

If the reviews are right, Intrepid Theatre Company’s production of “Woody Guthrie’s American Son” is a worthy tribute to the famed folksinger. (San Diego Story)

Tijuana/San Diego muralist Gloria Muriel is the next artist scheduled to paint the “Carlsbad Art Wall. 

10News reports that home prices are rising in Barrio Logan and folks who live there say the neighborhood is a lot safer these days. For those who missed the memo, I’m focusing my new podcast on the tension between the arts renaissance and gentrification happening in Barrio Logan.

• Dozens of High Tech High Chula Vista ninth-graders have been working with local artists to design and build a prototype of a small live/work dwelling for San Diego artists. (Times of San Diego)

The prototype is inspired by the “tiny homes” movement. There’s a public celebration of the project June 10 at Space 4 Art.

The tiny home prototype will be used and replicated in the building of a new, permanent location for the nonprofit Space 4 Art. I wrote more about Space 4 Art’s move toward building a new home on a vacant lot in Sherman Heights last year.

• This local artist’s Conan O’Brien fan art was featured on “Conan” recently.

Balboa Park’s new “Park After Dark” program is in full swing. (NBC 7 San Diego)

In last week’s Culture Report, I told you about the artists protesting the closure of UC San Diego’s University Art Gallery. The protest continues this week with a full schedule of events.

San Diego has just two parklets, both in North Park. The one located outside of Mama’s Bakery & Deli on Alabama Street is hosting a series of concerts this summer.

I recently wrote about what’s holding up the city from jumping on the parklet bandwagon.

Food, Beer and Booze News

• Tom Nickel, who owns Nickel Beer Company, O’Brien’s Pub and West Coast Barbecue and Brews, talks with West Coaster about the annual beer festival at the San Diego County Fair that he helps organize.

There’s a new restaurant in Kensington and San Diego Magazine gives foodies a good look at it.

Judging by the amount of food photos I see taken at The Crack Shack in Little Italy, the fried-chicken concept will go over well in Encinitas, where its second location will open soon. (San Diego Eater)

• These 11 San Diego restaurants serve up some of the best views of the city. (U-T)

• California Wild Ales has a unique approach to making beer with funky flavors. (Reader)

A famed German grocery chain opens in Vista. (U-T)

OpenTable, the online reservation website, culls its data and regularly releases a list of the best restaurants in the region.

The annual Beer & Sake Festival is happening Friday at Harrah’s Resort. (DiscoverSD)

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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