Vincent Kitch stepped in as the city of Carlsbad's cultural-arts manager about four months ago, and he's been neck-deep in work ever since. With its Art in Public Places and other cultural programs, Carlsbad's quickly becoming a model for other local cities.
"There's a lot going on and a lot to be involved in and proud of," Kitch says.
Carlsbad recently announced the selection of Roger Stoller, a well-known public artist from Northern California who specializes in large-scale abstract sculptures, to create a $100,000 piece of art for a new roundabout.
"We really felt that his piece would be contemporary and timely," says Kitch, who facilitated
the selection process but was not on the committee that made the decision. "We were looking for something that speaks to be-ing a great piece of art, but also speaks to [Buena Vista] Lagoon and the natural surrounding near the roundabout."
Kitch came to Carlsbad from the city of Seattle's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs (where, the Seattle Times reports, he had a rocky relationship with the Mayor's office). He's also worked as the cultural-arts program manager for the city of Austin and with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Not all North County cities have a position like Kitch's, which helps bolster Carlsbad's commitment to the arts. The city is also home to the William D. Cannon Art Gallery, which has become a center for visual arts up north. And, in January, the city opened a new installation in the outdoor Sculpture Garden at its Cultural Arts Office that features work by Jeffrey Laudenslager and Deanne Sabeck alongside an indoor exhibition with work by the Carlsbad Oceanside Art League.
The design of Stoller's sculpture for the new roundabout is set to be considered by the Carlsbad Arts Commission this week. If approved, the design concept will be put on public display in coming weeks for community comment before being sent to the City Council for final approval. If all goes well and the art maintains its integrity through the at-times grueling public process, it will be yet another feather in the city's hat.
"This is a major entry point to the city," Kitch says of the roundabout. "So, this piece has a major opportunity to welcome people to Carlsbad and also show that this is a place that appreciates arts and culture."