Public art City of San Diego arts, culture
“Collective Memory” by artists Sheena Rae Dowling and Yvette Roman, one of the public art projects to be featured in a city park in the coming months. Photo credit: Courtesy, City of San Diego

Park Social, a public art initiative bringing local artists and visitors together, will launch next month at 28 different San Diego parks, the city announced Wednesday.

With the temporary projects, city officials hope to encourage more residents and visitors to drop by parks while also generating “engaging and thought-provoking ways to experience public art.”

The works will be rolled out on a staggered basis for six months beginning May 21, with a kickoff weekend featuring meetups with some of the artists, ice cream socials, live performances, workshops and more. 

“As we emerge from the isolation of the last two years and reconnect with San Diego’s public spaces and each other, we hope to introduce our residents and visitors to responsive artistic projects that relate to a space or spaces in the city’s park system,” Christine E. Jones, who monitors civic art strategies for San Diego’s Commission for Arts and Culture.

Park Social artists include Allison Wiese, Armando de la Torre, Art Builds, Brian Goeltzenleuchter, Ingram Ober and Marisol Rendón, Keenan Hartsten, Roberto Salas, Sheena Rae Dowling and Yvette Roman, Trevor Amery  and Zaquia Mahler Salinas.

The artists were given a budget of $15,000 each and encouraged to explore and interpret the city’s park system by reflecting the natural scenery, as well as cultural boundaries, biases and identities in communities.

The city launched the SD Practice Initiative, along with Park Social, to help support local artists after they absorbed economic blows from the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s Public Art Fund is funding Park Social, as well an endowment from an anonymous family bequest.

We recognize and honor the tremendous impact artists can make on a city and its cultural footprint,” said Jonathon Glus, executive director of the Commission for Arts and Culture. “The activation of both the Park Social and SD Practice initiatives signals our dedication to our region’s creative talent and the creative life of our city and its residents in this post-pandemic era.”