A recent article published by The Voice of San Diego has prompted a look into the A (art) portion of the IDEA concept for property development in the East Village. The IDEA that “A” be included in the development of the East Village is an awesome thought. At the moment it is mostly that, just a thought.
I frequently walk the streets of San Diego, in particular those of the East Village. The latest art installation, which is almost 2 years old now, “The Fault Whisperer” consists of two large polished spheres which are lined up on opposite sides of the fault which runs parallel to the residential high rise Pinnacle on the Park.
The installation designed and created by Po Shu Wang is all you are going to get for the time being. I think most wouldn’t realize that it is art nor its function or its purpose without it being pointed out. Phase II of Pinnacle On The Park which began late last year leaves little room for outdoor art of any kind. None of the other high rises going up in the East Village allow for outdoor art of any kind. All are being built out as close to the street as possible. My hypothesis as to why we even have “The Fault Whisperer” is in part thanks to the fault itself. Obviously the fault has deemed the ground unworthy to build upon otherwise that precious chunk of vacant land would also be begging to be developed.
The San Diego Central Library has no art on the outside of the building, however you could easily consider the building itself a work of art. The library does contain a large amount of art from both local and international, both living and deceased artists which is hung throughout the library on all of the accessible floors. Several of the artists reside here in San Diego. On the 9th floor is an impressive art gallery all of which is owned or at least preserved by the city of San Diego. This says that the city does care about art. Getting the art to spread out and beyond the library is the challenge.
Outside of SILO in Makers Quarter there are several murals by Christopher Konecki, Mike Maxwell, Exist 1981, Zio Ziegler, Brian Hebets, Phlegm, Gloria Muriel and a few others. Many of which have been up for several years now with little new added outside of SILO or Quartyard. Both SILO and Quartyard have a limited lifespan. Currently there is a petition to save Quartyard and preserve it as the community center it has become.
Thanks to Kinsee Morlan at the Voice of San Diego for consistently speaking out on behalf of San Diego artists and art. I am one of those artists at Space 4 Art that is affected by the recent buyout by HP Investors. There will still be studio space for most of us for some time to come. It may not be the same amount of space and it may not completely accommodate the artist’s needs but no one is being forced out at this time. However losing the main gallery area is a significant loss to the residents of S4A as well as the many artists outside of S4A who exhibit there throughout the year. Despite the rumors S4A will thrive and move forward with the original plan they have had from the start, that is, to create a permanent home in the Sherman Heights area off of Market Street.
The core concept of S4A is affordable work and live/work spaces for artists. They believe that affordable housing is of utmost importance to retaining artists here in San Diego and to the ongoing creation of art in a creative environment. Will the lack of affordable housing thwart the creation of art? No, not at all, however it will help retain artists here in San Diego. My time at S4A has opened doors that I feel would not have opened otherwise. It is said that other cities such as New York City has a higher cost of living and arts are thriving. My rebuttal to that is why not do something different here in San Diego. Why not create a means to retain San Diego artists here and establish a mindset that San Diego is also an art city.
Several venues in the East Village do host art events. Few venues have fully supported art like Basic Bar/Pizza on J and 10th does. Almost every Tuesday evening there is a curated art exhibit by either Art By Kami, Viz Cult, Thumbprint Gallery or others. In which they host either group or solo art exhibits. It has been a valuable resource for local emerging and established artists to exhibit their work there. Underground Elephant on J and 9th, a private marketing firm, has several large Neil Shigley works of art. They have also held private exhibits featuring local artists such as myself.
From my perspective of what is happening in the East Village I see art being pushed out. Unless something changes quickly once Space 4 Art, SILO, and Quartyard are gone from the East Village there will not be a significant landmark public art location remaining. The closest establishment will be the Glashaus in the Barrio Logan, which itself has been under the microscope lately. Do we really want an artless East Village?
As the city moves forward in perpetual development in all regions of the city. I challenge those decision makers to incorporate art and to incorporate the means to show and exhibit local art. I also encourage all businesses to create a budget to purchase and install original local art. I know first hand the positive impact my art has on employees and clients at several businesses. It is a win win for the businesses (clientele and employees), the artists and San Diego!
Please take the time to read the Voice of San Diego article and Support Art!
Paul W. Koester is a local artist and advocate for art with a studio at Space 4 Art in the East Village of San Diego, CA