By Hector Trujillo
The San Dieguito Union High School District Board of Trustees announced last week its selection of Solana Beach resident and artist Christie Beniston as the Artist of Choice for 2009.
Beniston, who has created public art projects, residential commissions and fine art for more than 25 years, will have her work displayed on the outside wall of Earl Warren Middle School's joint use library later this year.
"This project has been a long time in the making," Beniston said. "After wanting to play off the idea of community ... I started to work on the concept of how information is organized. The aluminum frame that surrounds the artwork is engraved with maps of Solana Beach."
Solana Beach's new library was built, furnished, stocked and maintained through collaboration between the city of Solana Beach, the San Diego County Library system, SDUHSD and the Friends of the Library.
"Pulling it all together, I want it to be readable from a distance, so the idea started to form of creating a quilt," Beniston said of the design. "I like the symbolism of that as a community."
Drafts of her project, which is still in the planning stages, were presented to the board of trustees during their July 16 meeting. A finalized version of the project will likely be presented to the board sometime in August for approval.
Beniston, who graduated in 1983 from Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in fine art, has received recognition and awards throughout her career. She was also one of the artists selected to join the El Paseo Invitational Exhibition in 2008.
"We are so lucky to have a local artist standout," said Joyce Dalessandro, school board president. "We had a large number of entries. It is such a bonus that she is from Solana Beach." Beniston's children are also students at Earl Warren.
The board also discussed its finances for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years.
Rick Schmitt, SDUHSD's associate superintendent of instructional services, mentioned a proposal to rent out 34 classrooms at Canyon Crest Academy from the spring 2010 to the spring of 2011 school year in order to offset a potentially drastic cut in funding from the state.
"We have some ideas that are interesting to discuss," Schmitt said. "The dollar amount for the rent of these facilities would range between $400,000 and $500,000." The district gets one-third of the rent for the use of school facilities leaving the schools themselves with two-thirds.
SDUHSD faces a potential shortfall of $600,000 for the 2010-2011 school year due to state funding cuts.