Kinsee Morlan is human evidence that acting on first impressions can be dangerous. She probably doesn't appreciate being reminded of this, but she didn't knock my socks off when she interviewed for our part-time calendar-editor job four years ago. She was our third choice for the gig, but she wound up with it and soon became one of the most valuable employees this paper has ever had.
I tell you this because this is Kinsee's last week at CityBeat and in San Diego—she's moving with her fiancé Jeff to Colorado to be closer to her family and to start one of her own.
There have been times when I've considered Kinsee indispensable, that we truly wouldn't be able to carry on without her. Surprisingly, I haven't barricaded myself in my bedroom and assumed a fetal position under my covers. I'm probably suffering from a prolonged case of shock and denial. Is there an ointment for that?
Kinsee Morlan is one of those people who understand that professional promotion isn't just handed out on the street corner and that even when it's earned, it doesn't always come easy. For too long, she toiled at CityBeat for obscenely low pay, having to work a second job and live in Mexico just to make ends meet, almost never complaining about it.
She's the kind of person who finds opportunity in everything; she fearlessly turned economic hardship into a chance to learn Spanish and immerse herself in Tijuana's underground arts and nightlife culture. Meanwhile, she became a tireless (and sometimes sleepless) explorer of San Diego's below-the-radar arts scene. It got to the point where we had no choice but to make her full-time.
It was Kinsee who for four years compiled our “City Week” event-picks page and packed it with art happenings; it was Kinsee who launched our monthly “Seen Local” artist profile; it was Kinsee who was responsible for our occasional features on architecture; it was Kinsee who, when I decided to turn our cover into a weekly local-artist showcase, became our cover curator of sorts; and it was Kinsee who co-started an arts collective, Adapta Project, that held art exhibitions wherever she and her colleagues could find a place to hang art—from warehouses and coffeehouses to the New Children's Museum in San Diego and an architecturally interesting seaside home in Mexico.
San Diego's community of emerging artists owes her a huge debt of gratitude. She quickly got turned on by the uniquely rich, sociopolitical cultural life only a border region like ours can provide—seeing clearly the stark contrast created by an arbitrary international divider and recognizing the art that emerges from it—and, then she turned others on to it. I'm just thankful she did it in CityBeat's pages.
“Mexico is churning out conceptual political works that really couldn't spring up in any other part of the world. And, in San Diego, you can go to an art show or a dance performance and see both Northern Mexico and Southern California at work,” she said when I asked her to give me some thoughts on her experiences. “My hope is that those who snottily say ‘San Diego sucks' will eventually start seeing how lucky they are to live here.”
We've replaced Kinsee with Seth Combs, who's been contributing to CityBeat's music section for nearly five years and did a stint as Riviera magazine's nightlife and entertainment guy. Every journalist is different, and each brings her or his own perspective and set of talents, and we're looking forward to seeing what sort of mark Seth makes as CityBeat's new arts and culture editor.
At the risk of burdening Seth with unfair pressure, Kinsee is a hard act to follow. She forged a path, and if we veer too far from it, we'll do so at our own peril.
I speak for everyone in the CityBeat family when I wish Kinsee and Jeff the best of luck and a long, happy life in little Bayfield, Colo. (outside of Durango), and wherever else the wind blows them.
Kinsee, I especially am grateful for all your hard work, your unique contributions and even the occasional office yell-fests that challenged me and helped with increased blood flow. We all will miss you very much.