Allan Ostermann went from being a graphic designer at a publishing company in New York City to living in a homeless shelter in San Diego. He says his mental illnesses – bipolar disorder, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder – eventually made it too hard for him to hold a steady job.
Ostermann’s on disability now, but the $850 monthly Social Security payment he gets isn’t enough to afford rent in San Diego. So he’s found himself living in the St. Vincent de Paul Village homeless shelter downtown, waiting until there’s room for him to move into permanent subsidized housing, of which the region’s in short supply.
Ostermann is an artist, and he says painting and drawing is the only thing that makes him happy these days.
“It’s like a zen thing for me, it gets me out of my mind,” he said. “When I do my art, I enter a whole different space and I lose track of time. My mind stops racing, and it’s wonderful.”
Ostermann specializes in expressionistic portraits, and depicts both famous people like Iggy Pop and President Donald Trump, as well as some of the people he sees struggling on the streets alongside him.
At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ostermann will show some of his work at Digital Gym Cinema, at an event organized by the homeless service provider Father Joe’s Villages. Artists Neil Shigley and Steve Breen will also show and talk about their work.
Shigley has been creating large-scale portraits of the region’s homeless population for years, and Breen, an editorial cartoonist at the San Diego Union-Tribune, has recently been working on a series of sketches of people living on the streets.
Father Joe’s Villages President Jim Vargas will screen “Shine,” a new three-minute animated film about homelessness created by Father Joe’s, the animation studio Reel FX and i.d.e.a., a marketing agency.
The event is meant to explore the connection between art and social justice, and to shift the negative perception many people have about homelessness.
Ostermann said if there’s one thing he hopes attendees walk away understanding a little better, it’s that homeless is hard, and the only real solution is helping people like him find affordable or fully subsidized places to live.
“I see people walking and going home, and I don’t get to do that,” he said. “I have to go back to the shelter. The rents are just so high. It’s a really tough city here.”
You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.
Another Arts Venues in Barrio Logan Is Closing
The more than 30 artists and creatives who rent studios at the Union Barrio Logan warehouse in Barrio Logan have to be out by the end of the month.
Two resident artists and the master leaseholder Seth Collins confirmed that Mitchell Investments, the firm that owns the building, gave tenants until Oct. 1 to get out. The news was delivered via email on Sept. 18, giving the artists just 12 days to pack up and find somewhere to go.
Mitchell Investments didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Artist Kendall Davis, who’s had a studio at Union Barrio Logan for years, said 12 days’ notice isn’t enough time, especially in a city that continues to lose inexpensive art studios to new condos or apartment buildings.
“I have no idea where to go,” said Davis, a painter with a physical disability. “It’s hard to move when you’re in a wheelchair. It’s going to be difficult for everyone to get out in that amount of time because no one was expecting this at all.”
Mitchell Investments is the same Barrio Logan-based investment firm that owns The Glashaus. The city recently shut that venue down due to fire safety concerns.
City and fire officials have been cracking down on alternative arts venues in Barrio Logan after the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland. It’s not yet clear, though, whether the Union Barrio Logan building was also having issues with fire inspectors and the city’s code enforcement division, or whether the building’s owners made the decision on their own to evict the artists to prevent future legal issues with the city.
• I checked in with Chris Zertuche and Soni López-Chávez, who run La Bodega Gallery in Barrio Logan, and they said things are going well as they work to address safety and permit problems that city and fire officials identified there. The venue is still up and running with a capped capacity and other new safety measures in place. The duo has also launched a new project in Barrio Logan, a creative co-working space called FullHaus. It’s at 2185 Logan Ave., and takes the place of thChrch (pronounced “The Church”), a co-working space and art gallery that recently closed.
Fall Arts Preview Time, a Pop-Up Gallery in Chula Vista and Other Arts and Culture News
• Arts organizations ramp up programming in the fall, which is why the local media rounds up the best of the best of upcoming events this time of year. Get your calendars out and read through the Union-Tribune and CityBeat fall arts previews.
• The many stages of San Diego artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw’s long career are explored in a new joint exhibition between the UC San Diego Library and the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.
• The Chula Vista Center, the city of Chula Vista Cultural Arts Commission and South Bayfront Artists have teamed up for a pop-up gallery in a vacant storefront at the outdoor mall. The show will be up through Sept. 30, and an opening reception is happening Saturday.
• A Ship in the Woods, the alternative arts venue in Escondido, is putting on a satellite art and music show at a gallery in Banker’s Hill on Monday.
• San Diego musician Alfred Howard talks to KPBS about his career as a songwriter and his band’s upcoming residency at Panama 66 in Balboa Park, which kicks off Friday.
• Theater critic Pat Launer thinks the quirky classic “Benny and Joon” translates terrifically into a musical thanks to the pros at The Old Globe.
• The UC San Diego Design Lab has launched a citywide civic design challenge that seeks to “harness the power of crowdsourcing and human-centered design to address concerns with transportation and mobility in San Diego.”
• The Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common announced the schedule of its Fall 2017 Concert Series of free live performances.
• See five-minute locally produced films on Thursday.
• Photographs from the ’90s by nine San Diego photographers are showing at the art gallery at the Central Library.
• Check out all the upcoming cultural events at San Diego State University.
• Matthew Rosenquist, the Lux Art Institute’s artist in residence, is talking about his work Thursday.
• The eclectic chamber group Art of Élan has announced its new season.
• The Fleet Science Center’s Impossible Science Festival is a “hands-on, interactive event that explores the science behind the seemingly impossible” and it’s happening this weekend. Also at the Fleet: Juergen Schulze of the Qualcomm Institute at UCSD will talk about virtual reality projects created at UCSD’s Immersive Visualization Laboratory.
Beer, Booze, Weed and Food News
• Dang, this writer gives our city’s food scene a huge backhanded compliment. (Food & Wine)
• A restaurant called Nom Nom Bento is celebrating its grand opening Thursday.
• Local foodie folks are convening to talk about food waste next Tuesday.
• Check out this restaurant’s futuristic take on dessert. (Insider)
• The youngs loooooove pop-up dinners, mostly because they make for good Instagram fodder. (Union-Tribune)
• Is this San Diego’s original beer festival?
• There’s quite a food and booze scene burgeoning inside a pair of business parks in Miramar. (WestCoaster)