Chollas Creek is notorious for being one of the ugliest, mostpolluted waterways in the region.
The job of cleaning and prettying up the creek, which starts in La Mesa and Lemon Grove and runs through neighborhoods in southeastern San Diego before emptying into the San Diego Bay, has largely fallen onto nonprofits like Groundwork San Diego Chollas Creek and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.
The Jacobs Center, which works to improve the Diamond neighborhoods of southeastern San Diego and has its campus located near Chollas Creek in Lincoln Park, is in the midst of a construction project that will restore the portion of the creek running through its property. Part of the restoration plan includes activating and enlivening Chollas Creek with public art.
“We want to improve the aesthetics of the creek,” said Angela Titus, executive vice president at the Jacobs Center. “The intention is really to create a better community overall.”
Titus said ultimately they’re working to build an urban linear park along the creek on Jacobs Center property that will be open to the public. The artwork will be an important part of the park, she said.
The Jacobs Center put out a request for proposals for designs of site-specific “gateway-style” art on Chollas Creek over the summer. Over 40 artists and teams applied, Titus said, and a few weeks ago a selection panel shortlisted San Diego artist Roman De Salvo; North Carolina artist team Jim Hirschfield and Sonya Ishii; and Colorado artist Madeline Wiener.
A $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts will help fund all three artists and teams to come up with a conceptual design. The artists will be doing a site visit and meeting with the community for input on the designs in January and Titus expects to finalize a design as soon as February.
Current funding will only pay for the designs of the artwork, Titus said. The Jacobs Center is actively pursuing other grants and opportunities to fund the actual cost of construction.
“I think once all of these project come to fruition it’s really going to transform the way the community looks at Chollas Creek,” she said. “We’re excited. It’s all real now so every day we can look out from our offices and we actually see the restoration of the creek itself moving along in stages.”
• The Jacobs Center is also in the middle of refreshing its “Community Faces” murals mounted on the Food 4 Less on Euclid. The center has partnered with nonprofit arts group the AjA Project, and local students who live in the Diamond District neighborhoods in southeastern San Diego will be creating new images that’ll go up on the grocery store in early 2016.
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