San Diego County Arts Writer

Monday’s unveiling of Yaacov Agam’s colorful two-sided polymorph windows at the entrance to the downtown Spreckels Theater was a media event.

The bearded, diminutive Israeli artist, who looks a tad like a Jewish leprechaun, was autographing books, signing neckties and amazing onlookers, demonstrating the variety of shapes and movements inherent in his transformable table-top sculptures. He has a worldwide reputation as a prime mover in the field of kinetic art--art that changes with the movement of the viewer or itself.

Agam, 56, doesn’t just make art, he “creates environments,” such as the kinetic salon at the Centre National de Georges Pompidou in Paris. He has had commissions from around the world. His works can be found at the Civic Center in Leverkusen, Germany; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; at the residence of the president of Israel, and at Hebrew University in New York, among others.


Now San Diego has its own Agam. The 20-foot-long, ribbed, many-colored mosaic-like stained glass window over the Spreckels lobby entrance does take on different colors when viewed from different angles.

Agam said the Spreckels window is “unique in the world.” Creating the window was a challenge that fell “between the possible and the impossible.”

Mayor Roger Hedgecock declared it Yaacov Agam Day, and Spreckels owner Jacquelyn Littlefield was praised by Assemblywoman Lucy Killea for her “important contribution and for setting such a worthwhile precedent” in privately commissioning an artwork by an internationally noted artist.

A computerized fountain with water spurting and creating pictures in time to music is planned to complement the window. Littlefield estimated the total value of window and fountain, which may not be completed for 18 months, at $250,000.

Asked about plans for the Spreckels, which is currently dark, Littlefield said the 1,450-seat theater will be primarily a house for touring musicals although “right now, nothing is planned here.”

An exhibit of 150 pieces by Agam opened Tuesday at the Circle Gallery, 2501 San Diego Ave., and at 7:30 tonight Agam will speak at the gallery in a fund-raising reception for the San Diego Jewish Academy.


THEATER: The plays of the Gaslamp Quarter Theatre’s newly announced 1986-87 season do not promise much for theater goers who like something to chew on. But sugar lovers will be pleased. There’s Donald Driver’s 1982 comedy “In the Sweet Bye and Bye,” opening Feb. 27, and “On Approval,” Frederick Lonsdale’s brittle, 1926 comedy of manners. San Diego playwright Byron La Due--who a few years ago provided some very funny lunchtime theater serials, spiced with local sociopolitical commentary--has been commissioned to write a whodunit.

The only drama on the Gaslamp’s schedule is Percy Granger’s “Eminent Domain.” This very meaty play is about the cathartic effect of a visiting graduate student on a cynical, run-down college professor and his wife. The student is digging up details on their son, a well-known poet.

Meanwhile, at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, Douglas Jacobs’ adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” will receive its 10th staging, this time back at the Rep’s 6th Avenue Playhouse, Dec. 12-24. Englishman Ron Arden directs, with Tavis Ross as Scrooge and William Anton as Charles Dickens.

OPERA SPOT: Lights. Camera. Applause. Audiences at the matinee performance of the San Diego Opera’s “Eugene Onegin” were interrupted on their way to intermission and asked to give a tremendous round of applause. Bravos were encouraged.

The bit is part of a television commercial on telemarketing. The opera was selected because of its visual and musical possibilities. Filming, under Academy Award-winning director Haskell Wexler (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), continues this afternoon at the Civic Theatre. Audiences are still being sought. Interested parties should call Jerry Schmidt at the opera.

SYMPHONY BUCKS: Ken Overstreet has been tapped as director of development for the San Diego Symphony. He is charged with guiding the orchestra’s $2.4-million annual fund-raising effort and with completing the capital drive for the new Symphony Hall.

For 26 years, Overstreet served as a fund-raiser with three youth programs, (Youth for Christ, Campus Life and Youth Guidance), producing television specials, helping raise more than $26 million for youth programs and $15 million to fight world hunger.

GLUCK GALLERY: Two longtime art collectors have endowed a gallery on the second floor of the San Diego Museum of Art. The Maxwell and Muriel Gluck Gallery, made possible by a $250,000 endowment, will be dedicated Saturday at the museum. After the death of her husband in 1984, Mrs. Gluck, who is from Los Angeles, moved ahead with the plans for the gallery that she and her husband had shared. It will hold paintings valued at more than $1 million from the collection they have donated to the museum.

ARTBEATS: A 150-print, 40-year retrospective exhibit of the works of photographer Max Yavno will open Dec. 10 at the Museum of Photographic Arts. Yavno, who died this year, had a career as a commercial and advertising photographer, as well as in artistic and documentary photography. He was known for the compositional excellence of his literal and abstract photographs. . . .