About Bruna

I enjoy being a tourist in the city where I live and wrote a book of cityscape poems on this topic, called Dérive, based on riding subway trains to the end of each line in New York City. I presently write for SDCVB, San Diego's "official travel resource", and have penned articles on locations (as well as relocations) for publications like Archinect, Boldtype and The Knot and taught classes with a “citywriting” theme at schools, including UCSD, SCI-Arc and CalArts. I'm also “Lucien’s mom.”

How would you describe your ideal San Diego day?

(I just deleted about four paragraphs.) Depending on the neighborhood, San Diego offers such diverse and equally idyllic experiences - check blog posts for suggestions.

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Trail runs at Torrey Pines State Park, hikes near Julian and walks along the city’s many beaches (of course).

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

I guess I’m middle-of-the-road - a veggie burger or linguine, with a glass of white wine.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are…

For my toddler Lucien, Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Rós and Kraftwerk, and for me, “The Focus Group and Broadcast Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age.”

Get Your Ticket to Paradise at the Maritime Museum

Sailing to the South Pacific in the 1700s and 1800s must have seemed like riding a bicycle to the moon, but the Maritime Museum of San Diego shows how three adventurers did just that. Three connected narratives thread together the adventures of explorer Captain James Cook, author and merchant seaman Herman Melville, and post-impressionist artist Paul Gauguin and how they (almost) discovered paradise. A first-of-its-kind exhibit for the Maritime Museum, Cook, Melville and Gauguin: Three Voyages to Paradise, on view through January 1, 2012, features over 150 pieces from Cook’s, Melville’s and Gauguin’s travels, selected from the Kelton Foundation’s extensive collections of original paintings, engravings, whaling artifacts, writings, woodblock prints, rare wood carvings and sculptures.

William John Huggins, engraved by Duncan, South Sea Whale Fishery II, Aquatint, 18x24 inches, 1834.

The story begins in the museum-ship’s hold: “Against the history of the world’s greatest ocean as a vast, empty, deadly, and dark place, three voyagers won enduring fame through reinventing a Pacific in the collective imagination of humanity as the location of earthly paradise.” Evidently, mass audiences of the time “possessed unquenchable appetites for adventurous travel, romantic settings, and to imagine society as a more simple, noble, and perfect version of itself when transposed into a natural setting of endless beauty and bounty: a return to Eden.”

The three stories, though distinct, do blend into each other, as mythmaking should (though I overhear someone attributing Cook’s commissioned artist’s work to Captain Cook himself and referring to Melville as a painter instead of a writer). It’s tempting to spend time with the navigational instruments and charts, and learn more about Cook’s tragic final voyage and Melville’s return to a civil servant career after the failure of Moby Dick, but Gauguin’s heart of darkness is too much of a draw. The impact of arriving at this display of his three-dimensional masterpieces – the largest ever shown – overrides the previous work. Continue reading


High Fidelity Summer at MCASD, La Jolla

The Museum of Contemporary Art takes a breath this summer with the exhibition High Fidelity: Selections from the 1960s and 1970s and you can, too, through September 5. Presenting mostly formalist selections from the museum’s permanent collection, the survey’s consistency emits minimal distortion, contrasted with the intensity of its predecessors Mexico: Expected/Unexpected and Here Not There: San Diego Art Now. 

Centered on the time, the show is as much about a reconfiguration of space. The galleries seem airier with their two-dimensional focus. Even selected work by Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Robert Cornell Modification, Rabbit), is framed, not shadowboxed, and Martin’s Untitled progressively disappears in patches in characteristic Martin fashion. Time’s passage, or timelessness, becomes most apparent, however, peering at the horizon through Robert Irwin’s punctured window, 1°2°3°4°, 10 years since its last installation.

Robert Irwin, 1⁰2⁰3⁰4⁰, 1997, Apertures cut into existing windows, collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Museum purchase in honor of Ruth Gribin with funds from the Ruth and Murray Gribin and Ansley I. Graham Trust, Los Angeles. © Robert Irwin. Artists rights society (ARS), New York. Photo: Becky Cohen

High Fidelity portrays the era as a thoughtful one, with a definite counterpoint to abstract expressionism. John Altoon, Robert Irwin, and John McLaughlin explore surface tension, positive and negative space, and limits or edge of painting, while Sol Lewitt, Alfred Jensen, and Donald Judd employ systems to determine their compositions. In the company of their art, the work of Vija Celmins, Bruce Connor, Edward Keinholz and John Baldessari, defined as “grittier and more informal,” become almost polite.

Phenomenal Previews

Previews of the must-see fall exhibition Phenomenal: California Light, Space and Surface will be available at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Kettner location until its official opening at both venues on September 25. Irwin’s work returns for this show, with the perceptual experiments of Larry Bell, Mary Corse, Bruce Nauman, James Turrell, and Doug Wheeler. Phenomenal is part of “Pacific Standard Time”, a major region-wide initiative funded and spearheaded by the Getty Foundation; more than 50 cultural institutions across Southern California will tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene.

James Turrell, Stuck Red and Stuck Blue, 1970, Construction materials and fluorescent lights wall: 180 x 168 in. (457.2 x 426.7 cm); aperture: 90 x 26 in.© James Turrell. Photo by Philipp Scholz Rittermann.Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Museum Purchase, Elizabeth W. Russell Foundation Funds.



Viva la Revolución in Barrio Logan

Written by Bruna and Candice

Barrio Logan might not seem revolutionary as you approach it from the freeway or downtown. Trolleys rattle by, a marine saunters back to base, children’s voices echo down the block. Yet the neighborhood is known for its legacy of perseverance and protest, as art studios and cafes set up shop in color-washed spaces that line the street.

1. Chicano Park: The hypercolorful impact of Chicano Park makes even Day of the Dead festivities look bland. Images of the Virgin Guadalupe, Aztec gods and residents climb concrete supports in the indelible 60+ murals, under the Coronado Bridge and I-5 Freeway. In fact, it was infrastructural developments that didn’t always consider the best interest of community that fueled resistance and gave rise to the park.

2. Woodbury University School of Architecture: What exactly is a “Barrio Scenario”? It’s part of the Woodbury School of Architecture’s lecture and exhibition series, introducing visitors to the history of the site and responsible and responsive architecture. The San Diego campus is not just an innovative school for budding architects but also a standout example of adaptive reuse by Rinehart Herbst.

3. Technomania Circus: Billed as the “world’s only backyard circus,” expect a performance unlike anything you’ve seen before. Part gallery and part theatre but all about performance art, Technomania Circus at the Center for Amusing Arts incorporates everything from puppetry to Vaudeville to zombies in their experimental shows meant to break down expectations of traditional theater.

4. Blueprint Café: Best sweet potato fries in town. Blueprint is named for the architecture firm next door that rents space to the compact café and catering business. Dine in the impeccable interior or out on the patio. A seasonally inspired menu focuses on comfort food, with local Ballast Point Brewery beers and Moto Cafe coffees and teas served; the wine selection is international.

5. Of course, you won’t want to leave Barrio Logan without sampling some of the county’s most authentic Mexican eateries. Don’t expect the fanfare and enormous margaritas of Old Town’s festive hangouts; these joints are simple and to the point, and boy, are their tacos tasty. La Fachada, Tacos El Paisa and Las Cuatro Milpas are among the local favorites.


La Jolla’s Cottage Industry

“I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon than to occupy the most splendid post.” —Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson preceded the settlement of La Jolla by a hundred years, but he would’ve been at home in the Village with the number of cottages offering bacon on their menus today. Cottage culture is experiencing a legitimate resurgence in La Jolla through its cafes, pubs and restaurants—white picket fence and strategically placed rose intact.

Prep Kitchen La Jolla

Prep Kitchen, 7556 Fay Avenue: The owners of Whisknladle opened this establishment and another in Del Mar. Their personal philosophy: “PK serves great seasonal comfort food in super relaxed environment.” Brunch seems a bit fussy, but make it to PK for the more relaxed Happy Hour, daily from 3 to 6pm, with $5 sangrias and 25% all bottles of wine, paired with $3 Spanish-style tapas like Farro salad, manchego, stuffed piquillo peppers, marinated olives, calamari fritti, and bacon-wrapped dates.

Pannikin Coffee & Tea, 7467 Girard Avenue: This café, tucked between a Maserati dealership and used bookstore, might not be a cottage per se, but it is very cottagey, much like its Del Mar, Encinitas and downtown locations. Expect a collegiate feel mixed with ‘90s post-boho. The bandiera bagel and cheese tamales with veggie chili are hearty stand-bys, and the burrito is equivalent to two meals; the espresso is pleasing, and there’s wi-fi, too.

The Cottage in La Jolla

The Cottage, 7702 Fay Avenue: The trellised patio provides a picturesque frame for its clientele and cuisine. California bistro fare includes farm-fresh eggs, granola and fresh fruit, oatmeal pancakes, Belgian waffles or a vegetable frittata, plus desserts and pastries, fitting the cottage aesthetic.

Brick & Bell Cafe, 928 Silverado Street: The Brick & Bell possesses an old-country cottage vibe. Try the Mediterranean sandwich on ciabatta or any of their down-home soups, the chicken enchilada, tomato ravioli or Italian wedding varieties.

The Public House in La Jolla

The Public House, 830 Kline Street: One of the original La Jolla cottages, here you can choose from 21 taps of Belgian ales, local San Diego beers and many hard to find microbrews, as well as over 120 bottled beers—many which are specialty and limited release bottles—and wine. Pair them with a burger, from the “Bootlegger” with whiskey barbecue sauce, onion straws, bacon and pepper jack, to the grass-fed “Kobe Wagyu” with gruyere, gorgonzola, onions, tomato and baby greens (vegetarian options also available).

Extreme Pizza, 834 Kline Street: There might be more than a few Extreme Pizza franchises, diluting some of the independent Jeffersonian homestead spirit, but with a toddler, this might be one of the most convenient cottage options. For less than a Hamilton ($10), little ones get a huge slice of pizza, orange wedges, and a fruit drink–perfect after a day of scaling rocks at the Cove. Plus you can stroll to nearby Cups for no-guilt organic cupcakes afterward.