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Way Back

Congressman Joe Cannon, one of the longest-tenured GOP Speakers of the House, attended opening-day ceremonies for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

Shown here (left), the Republican from Illinois shares an electriquette with San Diego businessman and civic benefactor John D. Spreckels. The pigeon atop his head was one of a huge ceremonial flock released during the festivities.

Electric cars may not be as futuristic as we thought. With the centennial celebration of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition rounding the corner next year, many surprises are in the works, including the return of “electriquettes.”

As an ancestor of today’s battery-powered golf carts, electriquettes were wicker vehicles that tooled people around the 1915 exposition — at 3 miles per hour — for $1 per ride. Simply charged by two batteries, these two-seaters were such a major hit that they became one of the visual icons of the expo.

With the help of local developer and attorney Sandor Shapery, San Diegans hope to see electriquettes make a comeback in time for next January’s expo kickoff.

“We’re doing modifications now on our prototype, such as framing and electric work, to keep the design as original as possible,” he says. Although his version of electriquettes will be historically accurate and built with the original design in mind, “there will also be a special software that will only allow the vehicle to visit designated zones of the park, kind of like a LoJack,” Sandor says.

A trial run of 25 replicated electriquettes will take place in June. If those trials are successful, Sandor hopes to include the vehicles in activities such as electriquette races. Plans also call for duplicating a 1915 kiosk to serve as the rental venue for the 2015 vehicles. If electriquettes become as popular as they were 100 years ago, perhaps they’ll stick around after the centennial celebration of the expo.

“We’re hoping to keep them longer, but that will be up to the [San Diego] parks and recreation department,” Sandor says. Meanwhile, his prototype is on display at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

By Anna Lee Fleming


Internationally acclaimed artist Scott Jacobs offers his talent to La Jolla Concours d'Elegance

IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, Scott Jacobs doodled on book covers during class. By age 19, he opened his first gallery. Now, after living in California for 17 years, Scott creates photorealistic paintings for a living. Although he keeps busy with worldwide travel and a two-year waiting list for his artwork, he took time to create a painting for the ninth annual La Jolla Concours d’Elegance (April 5-7). This is the third consecutive year he has done so.

“I just make the time,” Scott says in his Rancho Santa Fe studio. He enjoys participating in this event to keep involved in the community. In previous years for this event, his acrylic-on-canvas paintings have been closeup shots of classic cars — the first being a Mercedes and the second a Ferrari. The first snatched $85,000 and the second $72,000 during the Concours’ auction.

“I didn’t want to do the same thing again,” he says. “I like paintings that tell a story.”

The new painting, which is on a 40-by-60-inch canvas, is based on an image of his daughter climbing out of a 1930 Duesenberg. His intention was to create a painting of her taking a photo of the car — as if she was attending the event. However, Scott thought the car seemed too overpowering to have that much action going on in one painting and decided the simpler movement of getting out of a car would have a greater impact.

Using old film canisters, Scott mixes and stores precise hues of paint needed to complete each project. He paints daily for nine or 10 hours using a size 0 brush; each project takes more than 100 hours to complete. The originals of his Harley-Davidson paintings sell for anywhere between $40,000 and $150,000.

Scott attends about 50 inter-national shows per year, his favorite location being in Greece.

“The hardest part about traveling so much is being away from family,” he says. His wife, Sharon, goes on only a few of the trips. “She likes to cherry-pick the trips,” he says, smiling.
Scott will be present at the Concours d’Elegance on Friday night and Saturday to sign posters and his new book, The Art of Scott Jacobs: The Complete Works. Posters from the last two years also will be available for purchase.

San Diego Life: By Hana Eades Photography by Martin Mann


WHEN KUSI CONSUMER INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER Michael Turko arrives at the TV studios in the morning, he is handed a transcript with 50 potential stories to cover — all from phone calls to the Turko Files hot line.

“We get up to 300 phone calls a week,” he says. “About 10 percent are worth investigating, and 10 percent of those actually get on the air. I do four stories a week, and some are multiple parts.” Those he chooses are “the ones that affect a lot of people.”

Turko, who grew up in Texas and graduated from the University of Texas with a journalism degree, was always interested in consumer reporting. “I feel sorry for people that are getting a raw deal,” he says.

After three years as a reporter, he went back to the university. “I always wanted to go to law school,” he explains. After earning his juris doctorate degree, he opened his own consumer law and criminal defense practice.

“I practiced law for three years and said, ‘This is for the birds.’ I hated it.

I didn’t see that I was making a difference. It was a lot of paperwork and way too much compromise.”

Turko returned to reporting and originated the Turko Files at a TV station in 1992. KUSI owner Michael McKinnon offered him a job in San Diego after seeing Turko via satellite. That was more than 15 years ago. Now Turko has gained a local following for standing up for the little guy — even against a literal powerhouse.

“Some of the things I have exposed with SDG&E ripping off their customers have been very challenging. That takes a lot of research, a lot of investigation,” he says, noting that he’s not worried about antagonizing public officials and large companies. “They’re big boys. They can take the heat.

“I think most people know that I am going to be fair,” he continues. “I am not going to go easy on them, but I am going to be fair. I am pretty happy that most public officials and companies will talk to me, whether they like what I do or not, because they know that I will be fair.”

Some of his cases get resolved before KUSI airs them. “Once I start calling people [to investigate], they change their tune quite a bit. I put them on the air anyway,” he says. “By the time I call you, it’s too late.”

In his free time, Turko builds guitars, cellos and violins — a skill he taught himself. He also plays rhythm guitar and sings in a four-member rock and roll band called The Sherlocks. As much as he is a familiar face on television and on the street as a consumer advocate, Turko is less known on the music circuit. Ask him where the band plays and he’ll answer with a wide grin:
“Mostly in people’s garages.”

San Diego Life: By Janice Kleinschmidt • Photography by Martin Mann


An interactive night of art and wine makes a winning combination

On a Wednesday evening, about 50 women and men paint Birds on a Wire. It sounds, perhaps, like a competition among professional artists; but the atmosphere in The Back Room of 98 Bottles in Little Italy is one of sheer camaraderie: people relaxing, drinking wine and filling 16-by-20 canvases with color. Artist-instructor Kari Powell guides them step-by-step over a three-hour per-iod. Artist assistants keep participants supplied with paint, while the 98 Bottles staff fill drink and food orders.

Chris Muylle, owner of Painting and Vino, brought the concept to San Diego in March 2011, after kicking it off in San Francisco.

“I am the perfect example of our typical clientele,” he says. “Ninety-five percent of them have no [art] experience.” Muylle got the idea after painting at a similar event instructed by his brother in Indiana. “It’s a great social atmosphere — a great place to meet new people,” he says.

Tammy Fitzgerald, a VA San Diego nurse, finds attending the events on a
regular basis therapeutic. “All of the stress of the day just flows with the paint onto the canvas,” she says. “I have brought 11 co-workers at different times with me, and nobody is ever disappointed.”

A walk around The Back Room reveals a range of styles, even though everyone is painting Birds on a Wire. One woman ignores the suggested palette of yellow, brown, green and aqua — favoring a red/orange/yellow background. Her friend opts for all blue and green.

Grant Nixon (like many of the people in the room, there for the first time) skews from the format itself, turning his canvas horizontal.

“It’s always good to have that nonconforming person in the room,” says the Marine Corps second lieutenant, who brought his girlfriend with him.

“I did better than I expected,” he says in the end. “It was surprising in the fact that I didn’t know it was actually a class. I expected they would give you paints and an easel and you sit down and paint what you want to paint. I didn’t know we would all be painting the same thing. That being said, it’s kind of cool to see the different perspectives that people had.

“It was a great time,” he continues, “plus wine helps. And the music was good. There was no pressure, no stress. It’s not like you are comparing yourself to the person next to you. It’s art.”

Angela Bailey, who works in international relief and community development and just returned to the San Diego area after six years in Africa, was “hanging out with friends” at Jake’s on 6th when she first saw a Painting and Vino event in action.

“I went to my first class thinking it was something my mom would enjoy,” she says. “When I brought the painting home, my mom was very inquisitive, so I knew she would be interested in going.” At 98 Bottles, she brought her mom and two friends visiting from the Bay Area.

One of four Painting and Vino artist-instructors, Powell recreates the finished painting (two are on display), guiding the participants on brush size, mixing colors and stroke technique. Occasionally, she walks the room.

“I actually like it when people ask questions,” she says.

Muylle interviewed 30 artists before opening business in San Diego. “We make sure they aren’t just talented, but also have that ability to entertain and instruct,” he says. “We try to avoid a classroom feel; we want to make sure people are having fun.”

That’s also part of the business plan for 98 Bottles, says co-owner Jill Mesaros.

“It’s very much in line with our mission to have people get together to do fun things,” she says. “They make new friends, and they’re experiencing something they haven’t done before. They find the creativity within themselves.”

San Diego Life: By Janice Kleinschmidt • Photography by Martin Mann

Photo Caption: In lieu of simply socializing over drinks at 98 bottles, friends also exercise their creativity at a Painting and Vino event.


AS A PARTICIPANT in Chalk La Strada, the street-painting festival held each autumn in Little Italy, Barbara Stanley rubs her fingers raw, pressing pigments of color into asphalt — making a masterpiece of art that, like a sandcastle at the beach, eventually washes away. But a recent work is here to stay.

“Karen Krasne called me out of the blue a couple of weeks before the festival,” Stanley reports. “She said that she and her husband, Jamie, wanted me to do something in front of their Extraordinary Desserts store on Union Street to coincide with the festival.”

That something turned out to be an inspirational piece of chalk art depicting one of Krasne’s luscious fruit tarts. Swirls of red mix with whipped butterscotch tans, yellows mingle with luscious lime greens and dark teals meld with brilliant pinks on a 6-foot-by-4-foot canvas.

“I’ve known Barbara for 22 years, and she’s a talented artist,” Krasne says. “Her use of colors is really spectacular, and her attention to detail — gorgeous. At a marketing meeting just before the festival, we decided we should do something unusual for the restaurant, and my husband suggested Barbara’s work would help attract people to the restaurant during Chalk La Strada.”

Now that the festival is over, Krasne is uncertain as to where she’ll be able to showcase the artwork because it is so large. But Stanley isn’t too concerned. She just had fun doing it.

“I love color so much, and Karen’s desserts are so beautiful that they are a work of art in themselves. It was like me copying the Mona Lisa. Well, much more luscious than the Mona Lisa — more like a Van Gogh with the color.”



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Perhaps it’s because the “cottage” with the wavy, cedar-thatched roof on the cover of our July issue looks like it could be the home of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that I was immediately intrigued by a press release I received this week.

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