San Diego’s bigger-than-life public art world is in turmoil. A proposed million-dollar pair of oversized plastic straws designed in Los Angeles to grace the entrance of San Diego’s new toilet-to-tap water plant has been put out to pasture after objections of environmentalists. And now a giant parachute by an East Coast artist has surfaced for East Village Green, a 4.1-acre park set for 14th Street between F and G downtown. The supersized public art project, dubbed Blue Skies, “intends to capture the unique industrial history of the neighborhood especially as it relates to the areas [of] parachute manufacturing,” says a presentation by Brooklyn-based Mark Reigelman, most recently famous for his design of a sugar refinery-themed children’s playground along a New York waterfront and a giant chair called NidoSilla in Monterrey, Mexico. “Seemingly precariously positioned, the parachute-inspired form is approximately 15’ tall and rests at approximately a 76-degree angle. The interior of the work will be a highly finished blue painted surface, whereas the exterior will be a media blasted stainless steel surface. The contrast is intended to highlight the area’s industrial past and uplifting future.”
Adds the pitch for the roughly $475,000 undertaking: “It is positioned facing the southwest to ensure sunlight saturates the colorful interior of the artwork throughout the year. The vibrant blue surface can be seen from all major gathering points within the park including the stage, multi-use lawn, and the community center. The artwork is positioned near 14th and F streets between the children’s play area, the stage, and the tiered seating along 14th which is surrounded by a number of trees.”
In 2011, Reigelman’s plan to mount 600 plastic bicycle handles sporting lime-colored streamers on a Cleveland parking garage was canned after commercial neighbors lodged complaints. “Developers of the nearby casino don’t want the risk that comes with some yahoo using the eye-catching handles to climb the side of the garage,” the Plain Dealer reported.
The Alpine Chamber of Commerce has come under fire from the county auditor for failure to produce records revealing how it spent $70,000 in so-called community enhancement funds earmarked by termed-out Second District supervisor Dianne Jacob. “The organization submitted a Grant Recap Report listing expenditures for payroll and rent/lease. However, they only provided one-quarter of payroll reports,” says a September 5 report by chief of audits Juan R. Perez. In addition, “The organization did not include a copy of invoices, cashed checks, or bank statements for the rent/lease expenditures.” Also, “The organization did not provide any additional documentation for other grant expenditures, even when they noted on the cover letter that they had spent grant funds for other activities.” The unfavorable audit didn’t stop the county from handing out an additional $75,000 to the chamber in June, “to advance the commercial, industrial, civic and general interest and prosperity of the communities of Alpine and Mountain Empire.”
The latest grant includes cash to stage “the Snow Festival, Christmas Parade, and honey event.” But the fresh funding came with a caveat: “This grant award is contingent on Alpine Chamber of Commerce coming into compliance with the San Diego County audit requiring documentation related to a past community enhancement grant.” In all, Jacob handed out a total of $1,253,247 of free money this year, with $120,000, the single biggest piece of the pie, going to the Julian Chamber of Commerce for operating the “Historic Town Hall” and paying for tourist events. The Ramona Valley Vineyard Association picked up $17,290 “to promote Ramona vineyards in San Diego County,” and the Ramona Chamber of Commerce was given $80,500 to “promote Ramona as a special agri-tourism area,” among other expenditures.
John Cox or Venezuela
Rancho Santa Fe’s John Lynch, who used to run the San Diego Union-Tribune for GOP kingpin Doug Manchester, has some friendly words of advice for his neighbor John Cox, the Republican running for governor against Democrat Gavin Newsom. “ I know John and he is a good man! However, he must do something dramatic to seize the election in three weeks,” writes Lynch on Facebook. “I propose....“5 in 5!” Lower the state income tax to 5% in five years, freeze all state hiring for five years, and open up drilling for the next five years! Such a plan could dramatically change the fortunes of Cali, where we pay the highest taxes, have the worst education, and a crumbling infrastructure! The choice is clear, John Cox or Venezuela!”...The Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County’s political action committee, which went all out to elect Republican Summer Stephan district attorney, is now spending heavily for another political favorite, one-time GOP Assemblyman, now Democrat Nathan Fletcher, currently running against Republican ex-District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to replace termed-out Republican Ron Roberts on the board of supervisors. The group’s latest gesture of support came October 11 with a $25,000 contribution for the county Democratic Party.