Second Artist Quits S.D. Public Project

San Diego County Arts Writer

Citing bureaucratic delays, David Avalos this week became the second artist to bow out from a Super Bowl-related temporary public art project. The problem: No city signatures on contracts.

“I would think the city would be able to place a contract before the artist, and they’ve got a deal,” Avalos said. But a city official estimated it will take two or three weeks for the government to sign off on the contract.

The pact, patterned after one used by Seattle, first must be signed off by various departments such as risk management and the city attorney’s office, city public arts coordinator Joyce Selber said. Meanwhile, the artists are expected to begin their works, incurring expenses without a contract or promise of pay. Each artist will receive a $1,500 stipend.

Ten artists were selected from 90 applicants to create temporary murals or artworks for transit buses as a project for the City Council’s Public Arts Advisory Board. One of the artists whose work was placed on the buses early this month, expressed surprise that her contract has not yet been signed.


“I was under the impression that right after I signed it, the city would sign,” Jean Cornwell said Tuesday. Her bus poster celebrates black culture.

“The artists sort of get caught in the middle,” she said. “We wanted to do the artwork. We didn’t have too much to say.”

The other dropout, Helen Redman, also quit the project because the city could not sign the contract before the work went up, Selber said.

Avalos and two other artists received widespread attention recently for another public work, a photographic collage critical of the treatment of undocumented workers by the tourist industry, which they placed on the back panels of 100 San Diego Transit buses.


Under the city’s public arts project, five artists--Holly Weston, Walter Woytjla, Cornwell, J.P. Werger and Eric Blum--were commissioned to create paintings that were photocopied and placed on the side panels of San Diego Transit buses. Avalos, Armando Alvarez and Myra Boecker-Woodward were commissioned to produce murals for the Community Concourse, and Roberto Salas was commissioned to create a three-dimensional artwork. The murals are scheduled to go up Friday.

Selber said she hopes to have the time period in the contract extended so that Avalos could do his piece at a later date.