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Constance White stands in front of “Time Interwoven." Photo by Robert Benson

Winged Victory

by Gillian Flynn and Alison Miller | Riviera San Diego magazine | November 21, 2012

The airport is the new museum thanks to Constance White, who’s charged with curating the San Diego International Airport’s mega-expansion. And we’re not talking seashells or Shamu. “San Diego has a burgeoning art scene. It’s what drew me here,” says the Dallas native, who began the undertaking six years ago.

Today, her vision is finally taking shape as new works arrive daily. There’s the mod sculpture over the baggage claim, courtesy of S.D.’s Miki Iwasaki, and the bold Roy McMakin piece planned for the pedestrian bridge. “He’s creating a collection of windows from notable San Diego architecture that will be sculpted in bronze and suspended,” says White, who earned her chops as Dallas’ art program coordinator.

White’s budget for the green building is $6.25 million and you’d better believe she’s splurging, tapping talent from SF to the U.K. Take Canadian artist Stuart Keeler’s “Cloud Taxonomy.” The installation, planned for the new concession area, represents cloud formations and features more than 4,000 Swarovski crystals. “All of the art is being constructed with the building; they’re breathing together,” says White, striding through Terminal 2 in stilettos.

A rotating exhibits program in the terminals will promote cultural tourism and feature local artists, collectors and institutions. After all, “The airport is the front door for San Diego,” says White. Local partners include the Mingei, the New Children’s Museum and S.D.’s midcentury master, Dave Hampton, who is producing Snapshot in Sculpture 1960’s: San Diego Midcentury Art. “What if people started going to the airport for art, without flying anywhere?” says Hampton, co-founder of objectsusa.‌com. “Now that’s pretty cool.”

White’s Hots
San Francisco International Airport, Jet Gallery in Little Italy, PechaKucha nights, Meeting of the Minds events, I.B., Bar Dynamite, Little Italy Mercato

White’s Nots
Bad art, poorly lit art, S.D.’s lack of a centralized arts district