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Nonprofit Seeks Public Art ‘Gathering Spaces’ Along Chollas Creek

Photo caption:

Photo by Claire Trageser

Construction on the restoration of Chollas Creek in southeastern San Diego's Chollas View neighborhood, Dec. 29, 2015.

This summer, residents in southeastern San Diego's Chollas View neighborhood should be able to stroll down a new pathway along Chollas Creek and pass by entrances and exits decorated with public art.

That's the plan laid out by the nonprofit Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. It's using grants and federal and state funds to restore Chollas Creek, including redirecting the creek flow to reduce flooding, building pedestrian bridges and adding native plants.

The project also includes a walkway from Euclid Avenue to Market Street, with small parks and overlooks along the way.

Photo credit: Jacobs Center

A rendering of the Chollas Creek restoration project.

Jesse Kleist, construction project manager at the Jacobs Center, said the project will give students from nearby Horton Elementary School a safer place to walk.

"They can cross the creek, instead of on Guymon Street, which is a narrow sidewalk and it’s pretty busy," Kleist said.

Construction started in August and should be done in March, he said.

Angela Titus, executive vice president of the Jacobs Center, has more plans for the walkway. She's working with the community to install public art "gateways" at its entrances and exits on Euclid Avenue and Market Street.

"That will allow us to have a really beautiful gathering place that will hopefully become a centerpiece of the work that we’re doing here and something that residents can use for lots of different reasons," Titus said.

Chollas Creek runs through the heart of the neighborhood and alongside the Jacobs Center, so it provides an opportunity to create a community center, she said.

"It runs straight through the community, and I think it will really be a centerpiece for the community and a gathering place," she said.

Thirty-nine artists from across the country and one from Spain applied to create the public art installations. A Jacobs Center committee of artists, teachers, planners and community representatives narrowed the field to two artists and one artist team:

• Ramon de Salvo, a local artist who created the "Song Rail Bridge" over state Route 94.

Jim Hirschfield and Sonya Ishii, a husband-and-wife public art team from North Carolina.

Madeline Wiener, a stone carver from Colorado.

Each will submit a proposal for public art gateways by the end of February. The community will be able to review and comment on the designs before the selection committee makes its recommendation to the Jacobs Center.

"This is part of a larger effort for us to transform the community, not just through physical redevelopment, but also through some of these other kinds of things that improve overall livability and the economics of the residents that live here," Titus said.

The National Endowment for the Arts gave the Jacobs Center $30,000 to fund the design of the art projects, but the center still needs funding for the chosen artist or artists to complete the work.

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