The Skyline Hills Branch Library opened last week, and both inside and outside the $13 million, 15,000-square-foot building are a series of sculptures by Gail Simpson and Aristotle Georgiades, a Wisconsin-based duo who call themselves Actual Size Artworks.

The series of seven metal sculptures, titled “Bright,” are the latest artworks to be added to San Diego’s civic art collection. The collection includes hundreds of city-owned public artworks that are, in part, paid for by a policy that says 2 percent of certain city-funded construction projects must be set aside for art.

The Skyline sculptures depict fluttering birds or moths clustering around lights.

Photo by Kinsee Morlan
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Simpson said they wanted the art to convey how the library is like a beacon of light that draws people in.

“The idea of a library as a place of shared knowledge and as a community center is central to the very concept,” Simpson wrote in an email.

She said the work also helps to create a visual connection between the inside and outside of the library.

“Bright” is just the second piece of public art in Skyline. VOSD recently mapped the locations of the city’s entire civic art collection, making it easier to see which neighborhoods have access to public art and which are veritable art deserts.

Because funding for new public artwork is attached to new development projects, big-budget art often ends up in weird places like secure water treatment facilities that require an appointment and a background check to enter. The artwork attached to new libraries, rec centers and parks has historically been the main method of getting art into San Diego’s neighborhoods.

Christine Jones, the public art manager at the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture, has said she’s interested in getting more public art out of the city’s downtown core and into surrounding neighborhoods, in part, by adding new funding streams to pay for public art that can be located anywhere.

The Commission for Arts and Culture budget was increased this year, and it has directed some of that money toward new public art pieces that don’t have location restrictions.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said via email that getting public art into public buildings throughout San Diego’s neighborhoods is a valuable goal.

“Art can create a sense of place, but more importantly it can be a reflection of a community’s values,” he said. “Not everyone has access to museums or galleries, which is why it is so important to include high-quality artwork in projects that can transform communities, such as the Skyline Hills Branch Library.”

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

San Diego Loses Two Artists

Poet David Antin died Oct. 11 from complications related to a recent fall.

Antin lived in San Diego with his wife, fellow artist Eleanor Antin, and both taught for years in the visual arts department at the University of California San Diego.

Antin is best known as a poet and an art critic. He called his brand of freewheeling improvised pieces “talk poetry.” Two recordings of his talk poems are included in “The Uses of Photography” exhibition on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s La Jolla location through Jan. 2.

I recorded a podcast interview with Antin back in 2011 after he released his book, “Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art & Literature, 1966-2005.”

San Diego artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter had this to say about Antin:

“David Antin was the primary reason I chose to do my MFA at UCSD. There has been no more profound an influence on my sensibility than David’s. And yet, it’s what he did rather than what we said that had the most profound effect on me. To have his support at a time when I was exploring institutionally critical – and usually unpopular – forms of art inspired a self-assurance that I’ve relied on ever since. I wish every artist had a teacher like David. He will be missed.”

Jill Dawsey, who curated “The Uses of Photography” show at MCASD, called Antin a “great genius” and said an hour-long interview with him in 2014 “was one of the most inspiring hours of my life.”

On Oct. 7, San Diego photographer Tim Mantoani passed away after a long battle with cancer. The photographer gained international acclaim for his portraits of athletes, which appeared on the covers of Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and other magazines.

The editor of LAVA magazine wrote a remembrance of Mantoani, who shot several covers and features for the publication.

Mantoani spent years on his “Behind Photographs” project, which features portraits of photographers who’ve shot some of the world’s most iconic images. An exhibition of some of that work was shown last year at MCASD.

The photographer also created a stunning TV series for KPBS called “SnapShot” that features some of the San Diego’s most interesting artists, craftsmen and athletes. My favorite episode follows Mantoani to a Lucha Libre wrestling match in Tijuana.

Over $25,000 has already been donated to a fund to help pay for Mantoani’s son’s college education.

MCASD Celebrates Its 75th

Tuesday marks the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s 75th anniversary.

MCASD is celebrating all week with a series of special events, including a community day on Saturday that offers free admission to the La Jolla location and a panel featuring the museum’s new director and CEO Kathryn Kanjo and former longtime director Hugh M. Davies discussing the museum’s history and future.

The museum on Tuesday announced a $75 million capital campaign to raise the funds needed to quadruple the size of the La Jolla facility. The museum has already raised about $56 million toward its goal, and the expansion project is expected to break ground in 2017 with an anticipated reopening in 2020.

• I wrote about the layoffs the museum had to make in anticipation of the expansion project.

• U-T freelancer Susan Myrland sat down with Davies to talk more about the expansion.

• The La Jolla Light talked to Kanjo about her personal and professional life.

History Center Drops Admission, Art Replaces Billboard Ads and Other Arts and Culture News

• The San Diego History Center is now offering donations-only admission. The U-T reports that the policy aims to make the museum more accessible. The history center is also doing a cool video series on local graveyards.

• You’re going to want to start looking a little closer at billboards around San Diego. Art San Diego, the art fair happening at Balboa park from Nov. 3-6, is again sponsoring the Open Walls Project that replaces billboard ads with prints of high-end art.

If you like eclectic jazz fusion, put San Diego trio Besos de Coco on your radar. (U-T)

• The San Diego Architectural Foundation celebrated 40 years of awarding the best and worst of San Diego’s built environment last week at the annual Orchids & Onions show. Here’s a full list of the winners and losers, and here’s the U-T’s Roger Showley’s take on the event.

• Rising Arts Leaders San Diego is hosting a conversation about arts advocacy on Wednesday.

The San Diego Museum of Man is celebrating street art at an event Thursday night that includes a glimpse at rarely seen objects from the museum’s collections.

UCSD’s ArtPower kicks off its 13th season this week with jazz musician Takuya Kuroda.

• Art critic and educator Robert L. Pincus and local businessman Dan Shea have dueling op-eds in the U-T about the Bill Walton bronze. Shea, who’s part of a group that commissioned a $200,000 tribute to the retired basketball player and wanted to gift it to the San Diego Airport, said he thinks the airport’s leaders need to do a better job of explaining why they didn’t want the artwork. Pincus explains why the airport isn’t the right place for the piece. I previously talked to Shea and Pincus about the Bill Walton bronze and why it didn’t fly at the airport.

Speaking of the airport, there’s a free circus show there on Friday.

Eighteen large-scale photographs of border artists are currently hanging near the San Ysidro Port of Entry on the Tijuana side. The images are by artist Stefan Falke and the outdoor exhibition is part of ongoing events hosted by the Tijuana Interzona festival.

• San Diego Repertory Theatre has fixed the parking problems I wrote about a few months back.

• The San Diego Opera is staging “Cinderella” while having a Cinderella story of its own. (U-T)

An example of the Port of San Diego’s big public art comeback I told you about this summer can be witnessed this Saturday and next Saturday at the Cesar Chavez Park Pier in Barrio Logan.

If you’ve yet to venture out to the Sukkot fall harvest festival that happens in Encinitas, here’s a list of three ways you can see some of the art and architecture the event produces.

San Diego Story and the U-T had good things to say about the season openers by the California Ballet, Bach Collegium and the San Diego Symphony.

Here’s how the La Jolla Playhouse is working to engage new audiences. I wrote more about those outreach efforts, plus efforts by The Old Globe and San Diego Opera, at the start of the year.

• Camarada’s REMIXX series of remixed chamber music in urban settings kicks off Saturday at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights. (CityBeat)

Folks who listen to the local FM radio waves will know the name Robin Roth. The former music director of 91x just landed a new radio gig. (SoundDiego)

Food, Beer and Booze News

• Layoffs at Stone Brewing have the craft beer world wondering if the boom has reached its peak. (NBC San Diego)

• Eater San Diego rounded up three new food markets in the region.

• The famous old bakery in Lemon Grove that closed down last year will soon reopen as a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Craft breweries are working together to come up with a way to provide benefit packages to employees. (Reader)

• This kid’s almond toffee sounds good. (Encinitas Advocate)

This local company is using spent coffee coffee grounds to print T-shirts.

• Get into the Day of the Dead spirit by eating traditional Mexican mole and checking out altar displays.

• San Diego Magazine’s Troy Johnson makes a semi-convincing argument involving a stray chunk of beef cheek for why old-school white tablecloths at restaurants are a good thing.

Kinsee Morlan is the engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link.

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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