Public Art

But Is It Art? San Diego Buys 100 Paintings, Sculptures, Other Works for $500,000

The acquisitions were made possible through a $500,000 gift from the estate of Thomas O. Rasmussen, an avid contemporary art collector

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San Diego has acquired 100 new works of art from 89 local artists for its Civic Art Collection through the SD Practice initiative, which focuses on the purchase of existing artworks from San Diego area artists, city officials said last week.

The initiative aims to support artists affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and increase collection holdings by acquiring new works that reflect the rich diversity of artistic talent and expression in San Diego.

The acquisitions were made possible through a $500,000 gift from the estate of Thomas O. Rasmussen, an avid contemporary art collector. Rasmussen, who died in 2014, desired to expand the presence of artwork in public facilities.

"With these artworks, many of which are the first by these artists to enter the Civic Art Collection holdings, we will be able to ensure that the collection continues to grow and deepens understanding of contemporary art and local art histories,'' said Christine Jones, chief of Civic Art Strategies of the city's Commission for Arts and Culture. "It's also important to grow awareness of San Diego artists and to help support them at such a difficult time.''

The new acquisitions span artistic media from painting, sculpture, drawing, print, photography and video, installations and textiles.

The city issued a request for proposal, and 552 artists responded. The RFP was open to practicing artists residing in San Diego County. The city convened a panel of five jurors to assess eligible applications considering the priorities of the SD Practice initiative.

The panel included:

  • Anthony Graham, associate curator, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
  • Eun Jung Park, assistant professor, Southwestern College art department
  • Derrick Cartwright, director of University Galleries and associate professor in the department of art, architecture and art history at the University of San Diego and director of curatorial affairs at the Timken Museum of Art
  • Gaidi Finnie, executive director, San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art
  • Alessandra Moctezuma, artist and gallery director/professor, fine arts department, museum studies at San Diego Mesa College

Graham and Jung Park are Commission for Arts and Culture Public Art
Committee members.

"We are thrilled to be bringing such a rich and diverse selection of works into the collection this year thanks to Thomas O. Rasmussen,'' said Jonathon Glus, executive director for the city's Commission for Arts and Culture. "We greatly appreciate his generosity to make these acquisitions possible and, in turn, for helping to enhance and more fully represent artists working in San Diego in this collection.''

The works will be featured in public places for residents and visitors to enjoy, beginning this summer.

NBC 7 made repeated requests to the city for images of the artworks and received a total of nine of the 100 pieces that were purchased. Watch the video above and head over to our Facebook and tell us what you think.

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