San Diego’s public art ends up in weird and not-so-public locations based on the way the city pays for new pieces.
San Diego has over 500 works of art in its civic art collection but it isn’t all that easy for typical city residents to get to each of those pieces.
Roughly a dozen of the city-owned artworks are located at water plants or pump stations. Yet ever since Sept. 11, the public can’t get into most of those facilities – at least not very easily.
Security concerns caused officials to close most of San Diego’s water-related facilities to the general public. To see the art there now, folks have to contact the city’s communication department, pass certain security measures and set up an appointment.
“One time to see [Robert Millar’s] work at the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant, I hopped a fence and snuck a look at it,” said artist Robin Brailsford, who was commissioned by the city to add her own artwork, “Stream of Consciousness / Body of Water,” to the Miramar Water Treatment plant when it was upgraded and expanded a few years ago.
Not all of the work at public water facilities is closed off. An art installation by Marcos Ramires Erre and Teddy Cruz that covers a pump station in Point Loma can still be viewed by the public, for instance. But even those facilities are often located in strange, off-the-beaten-path places not frequented by many people.