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One Perfect Art-Filled Day

Three Local Art Experts Weigh in on What to Do in San Diego

You’re a culture-lover and you want to see some of the city’s great art — but our sweet San Diego weather is calling. Can you enjoy them at the same time? Of course! We asked three local leaders how they would spend one perfect day wandering around the region’s many visual art opportunities, indoor and outdoor.

Mary Beebe, Director of the renowned Stuart Collection, 18 commissioned artworks on the campus of the University of California San Diego

Early mornings at UCSD are peaceful — prime time to wander around the eucalyptus groves and urban plazas, exploring the Stuart Collection sculptures. As I make my way into the heart of the campus, I listen for what tune is playing from Terry Allen’s “Trees.” A light ocean breeze wafts past as I wind my way along the charming “Snake Path.” Just ahead “Fallen Star” is bathed in a warm glow from the rising sun.

Later I might head down to La Jolla Shores to meet friends for a margarita and a bite to eat at Galaxy Taco. They have the best and most authentic Mexican food in town. As the sun sets, I journey back to campus for a performance by the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus or some event at the Conrad Prebys Hall, where the sound is truly amazing and wondrous. 

As I walk to my car afterwards, I pause a moment to watch Bruce Nauman’s neon “Vices and Virtues,” one of the works in the Stuart Collection, flashing like a frieze and filling me with almost sinful pleasure.

Lauren Lockhart, art program manager for San Diego International Airport, which boasts an impressive permanent collection of public art

My ideal art day entails lingering with a single work for a long time or meandering through a favorite museum at a leisurely pace. I’ve brought along my 1 year old son, so parents out there will know that this itinerary is family-friendly but packs a lot in one day!

I’d start the day with a multisensory experience in The New Children’s Museum’s garden, then climb in Marisol Rendon’s immersive toddler environment, “Wobbleland.” Next, I’d visit Niki de Saint Phalle’s stunning park, Queen Califia’s Magic Circle, open on the second Saturday of the month. Magical is an understatement. Put it on your calendar and go.

We’d eat lunch in Balboa Park, followed by a stroll through the Art of the Open Air in the Plaza de Panama. Then we’d explore creative new presentations of the stellar collection at the Timken Museum. With work by Bruegel, Rembrandt and Rubens, the Dutch masters alone make it worth the visit!

In the afternoon, it’s time to catch a performance by Fern Street Circus at San Diego International Airport through the Airport’s Performing Arts Residency program. Their work in the circus arts is accessible to all audiences. It’s joyous and fun. Finally, take in sunset from the airport’s new Rental Car Center. Standing below Amy Landesberg’s new works, “Swarm” and “Hive,” the view is spectacular and the art is even more compelling.

J Noland, Public Art Coordinator for the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture as their Public Art Coordinator

So you’ve got one day in San Diego and want to see some art? No problem, we’ve got tons of it!

First, grab a cold brew coffee from one of the many locally-owned coffee shops in East Village. Nearby is San Diego’s Central Library, home to some civic treasures. From psychedelic 3D lenticular prints to a human-scale trophy topper, there’s some serious artwork to discover. Swing by the ninth floor to check out the art gallery, a stunning view of the skyline, and the Hervey Family Rare Books Room. Don’t miss two of my favorite prints in the collection, William Hogarth’s “Gin Lane” and “Beer Street.”

Just a two-minute walk east of the library, you’ll find one of the newest public artworks in San Diego: “Fault Whisper” by Living Lenses. Not only does this artwork visually measure the movement of the active fault rupture below the park, it translates the movements into music… so listen carefully!

Time for a quick beer? Try one of San Diego’s craft favorites at Stella Public House. Afterwards, head south to Barrio Logan and Chicano Park, home to one of the world’s largest collection of Chicano murals. When you've had your fill of monumental murals, fill up on tacos at Las Cuatro Milpas, ¡Salud! or one of the other new restaurants opening around the Mercado del Barrio. Then walk them off by visiting one of Barrio Logan's many galleries.

Got steam left? Head back to East Village for an opening at Space 4 Art, a thriving artist live/work complex. If you’re lucky, it’ll turn into a party!  

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