public art downtown fire station
A new piece of public art by artists Ingram Ober, Marisol Rendón-Ober and Chuck Moffit sits in front of the Bayside Fire Station. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

It looks like a mix between vintage phonographs and metallic flowers sprouting from the sidewalk. The city’s newest piece of public art is primarily a sound sculpture. Up close, passersby will hear original musical compositions playing through the horns.

The artwork, by artist team Ingram Ober, Marisol Rendón-Ober and Chuck Moffit, is part of the new Bayside Fire Station No. 2 opening this week at the intersection of Cedar Street and Pacific Highway. The city of San Diego has a policy requiring 2 percent of the cost of city construction projects like fire stations be spent on public art.

The Bayside Fire Station will serve Little Italy and nearby neighborhoods, giving firefighters and emergency personnel quicker access to the western waterfront edge of the city by cutting out delays caused by the train and trolley tracks to the east.

Ober and Rendón-Ober, San Diego artists who also happen to be married, said the twisting design of the sound sculpture was inspired by the ornamental designs commonly found adorning fire trucks and equipment.

“We toured a fire station museum and, just like kids, got fascinated with the hardware of fire stations, especially antique cast bronze and brass and the way that everything has the gold leaf filigree around it,” Ober said. “So those kind of things became aesthetic components that found their way into the work.”

The artists said inspiration for the design also came from San Diego architect Rob Quigley, whose open, airy contemporary fire station building is meant, in part, to make the fire fighters inside more accessible and visible to the neighborhood.

public art san diego
The new public art outside the Bayside Fire Station is primarily a sound sculpture. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

The sound playing from the sculpture is abstracted, but if you listen closely you may hear morphed sounds of water, fire and emergency calls.

“Those recognizable sounds bubble up from time to time, but also blend in,” Ober said.

Artists Ingram Ober and Marisol Rendón-Ober also recently completed a new piece of public art for the Southcrest Trails Park in southeastern San Diego. For that piece, the artists incorporated photos of nearby community members and made a sculpture inspired by the concept of home.

• In 2011, former Mayor Jerry Sanders temporarily suspended the city’s public art policy, and San Diegans are starting to see the effect of that decision. Seven city projects coming online do not have public art, including the new fire stations in Hillcrest, Mission Valley and City Heights.

Los Angeles-based artists David Burns and Austin Young, who call themselves Fallen Fruit, plus Janelle Iglesias and Wendell Kling, have each been commissioned by the city of San Diego to create new public artwork for San Ysidro. On Sunday, the artists will be at a community festival in San Ysidro, and residents are encouraged to talk to the artists and help them come up with designs for the new art pieces.

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

Here’s How to Navigate the Jam-Packed Fringe Festival

The choices are staggering. This year’s San Diego Fringe Festival includes more than 500 performances by dozens of acts.

circus collective
The Circus Collective of San Diego’s “Xylem and Phloem” show is one of hundreds of performances in this year’s San Diego Fringe Festival. / Photo by Jim Carmody
The Circus Collective of San Diego’s “Xylem and Phloem” show is one of hundreds of performances in this year’s San Diego Fringe Festival. / Photo by Jim Carmody

Trying to figure out how to choose which performances to see can be exhausting and overwhelming. Here are three ways to navigate the fest:

• Take the Pros’ Advice: Read Fringe Festival reviews and guides. The Union-Tribune, KPBS, Vanguard Culture and San Diego Jewish World have good ones. What shows am I seeing? Glad you asked. I took my family to the Circus Collective of San Diego’s Fringe show (it’s slightly risqué, but mostly fine for the littles), and I’ll be seeing Blueprint, a hip-hop dance duo from New Zealand, on Saturday.

• Search Yourself: Don’t care what the critics have to say? Then look through the schedule and be sure to click “view filters” so you can easily choose a genre, find out whether the performers are local or touring and use other parameters to help narrow your picks. All shows end Sunday, so start your search soon. Pro tip: You first need to buy a $7 fringe tag before you can enjoy the $10 price of admission to each show.

• Just Go With the Flow: Just pick one show, and then stick around. After the end of each show, most acts make a point to ask whether there are any Fringe artists in the audience. There usually are, and those folks are then given a chance to pitch their shows. I also recommend talking to Fringe artists and asking for their recommendations since they get free admission to all the shows, and most have already seen dozens of acts.

More Murals in City Heights, Weirdness at Birch Aquarium and More Arts and Culture News

• An effort to paint murals on store facades along a stretch of University Avenue in City Heights continues. (KPBS)

• You’ve likely already read about the musicians playing this year’s KAABOO festival in Del Mar. Here’s this year’s lineup of visual artists showing work, painting live and creating public art installations for the fest.

Carly Ealey art san diego
Carly Ealey is one of the visual artists featured in this year’s KABOO festival.  / Photo by Javier Luna
Carly Ealey is one of the visual artists featured in this year’s KABOO festival.  / Photo by Javier Luna

• Helmuth Projects, an arts venue in Bankers Hill, has become a place to go for more experimental contemporary art and music. Over the weekend, its owners were issued citations for operating without proper permits, said a San Diego Police Department spokesman.

• You can nominate someone to be the next California poet laureate.

• Cura Caos, a VOSD Podcast Network show about movers and shakers on both sides of the border, is hosting an event Tuesday, July 3, featuring a discussion with a new generation of young artists and arts advocates making waves.

• San Diego Startup Week is under way. (Times of San Diego)

• Is smooth jazz your thing? There’s a festival for that. (KUSI)

• SDVoyager interviewed a tour guide behind one of the companies offering tours of Tijuana and Baja California food and culture.

• The iconic Drew Ford Roundhouse building in La Mesa is being demolished. (Union-Tribune)

• The Birch Aquarium is about to get weird.

• U.S. Customs and Border Protection is considering removing a protest mural on the border wall made by deported veterans. The National Coalition Against Censorship doesn’t think that’s a good idea.

Do the folks behind Wonderspaces, the wildly popular immersive art exhibition showing at the B Street Pier, owe something to the local art scene? These arts advocates think so. Here’s my take. What do you think?

The Kinsee Report: Here’s Where I Want to Be This Week

• Arts nonprofit Vanguard Culture has curated quite a night. IDEA1 is a relatively new mixed-used project in the East Village. The developers designed the building with a big public plaza in the middle in hopes that the community would activate it with arts events. Vanguard Culture’s “Sensorium” event will do just that, plus transform 15 condo lofts in the building via “immersive, experiential, multi-sensory art experiences themed around the 5 senses.” There will also be food, wine, performances and more.

idea1 east village
The IDEA1 building in the East Village includes several art installations. / Photo courtesy of IDEA1

• Last Friday, my fam and I found ourselves on the rooftop of the San Diego Natural History Museum, eating Indian food, drinking IPAs (we adults drank while the kids played with dinosaurs the museum puts out) and playing a geeky game of trivia. I did not know this rooftop venue existed, but now that I do I’ll be back. The Nat at Night events are happening Fridays through August.

• The San Diego Symphony’s Bayside Summer Nights outdoor concert series kicks off this week. New this year is something I want to check out: A free pre-concert event called Flamingo Fridays that offers drink specials, free mini-concerts and “flamingo-themed giveaways,” whatever those are.

Food, Cannabis, Beer and Booze News

• This week might be a good time to stop by a marijuana dispensary. Marijuana retailers across California are being forced to sell cannabis products at a discount ahead of a July 1 deadline requiring new standards for packaging and testing. (CBS Sacramento)

The Mankind Cooperative marijuana dispensary operates within a shopping center in Miramar. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

• The Union-Tribune recently rounded up the region’s best BBQ spots. Readers reacted by pointing out several restaurants they think belong on the list.

• Local bartender and cocktail consultant Cervantes Magaña died after being hit by a car while riding his motorcycle. San Diego Magazine calls Magaña one of the city’s “most eclectic, electric, innovative bartenders.” The head of the local chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild told the U-T Magaña “was one of those geeky cocktail guys — he was always looking for new ways to do things and new flavor profiles. He was very passionate about that and it was one of the things that fueled him.”

• The Food Network included Blind Lady in its list of the best pizza in America’s biggest cities.

• Bottlecraft beer shop is turning 7.

A San Diego brewery is partnering with a Tijuana brewery in an effort to better interact with its fans in Mexico. (Union-Tribune)

• If you’re a foodie or you watch food competition shows on TV, you’ve likely been anticipating the opening this week of El Jardin in Liberty Station. (Eater)

• Move over tacos and tostadas, taquitos are making a comeback. (San Diego Magazine)

• Eclipse Chocolate’s Cupcake Extravaganza is happening June 29 through July 8. Not only can you sample lots of cupcakes at the annual event, you can also pet a baby goat. (Times of San Diego)

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at with arts and culture news and tips. Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link. Subscribe to Voice of San Diego podcasts

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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